This teaching case centres on the difficulties of weighing up the pros and cons of a foreign investment decision in the natural resources sector, characterized by ‘unknown unknowns’ and the difficulty to quantify risk. The challenge is how to best estimate existing risks and transform often fuzzy inputs into a reliable conclusion on which to base an investment decision.The case features Charles Longstreet, a veteran mining industry consultant, and his challenge to make a sound decision on whether to recommend to invest in a copper mine in the Kuon Noi province of Laos. Charles’ key consideration relates to the quantification of a risk-reward framework that would allow him to weigh up the pros and cons of the overall investment decision. For this purpose, Charles travelled to Laos to view the mine himself, met with various due diligence and other third-party consultants, and ultimately set up a presentation that he could present to his employer with a conclusion on whether or not to proceed with the investment. This is the pre-reading of the case.As a first step, Charles made a list of various work streams he wanted to have covered in order to have the required inputs to make this decision. For his initial assessment, he wanted to gain a better understanding of the counter parties – including the current Chinese JV shareholder, the partnerships involved, and the macroeconomic and country risk. Additionally, this assessment would cover legal, financial, and environmental due diligence, which was to provide input for an initial valuation model. This would form Part A of the case.Following this, Charles wanted to further explore debt financing and capital structure considerations, as well as related international tax and transfer pricing matters. Given this would be a foreign investment from a Laotian perspective, these would be of key importance in determining the right transaction structure. This would form Part B of the case.Finally, having gone through these extensive exercises, Charles would be in a position to negotiate the purchase agreement and decide what would be the key make-or-break points of the legal contract. With these documents in hand, he would then be able to return to his employer with a firm recommendation on whether or not to continue with the project. This would form Part C of the case.

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RSM Case Development Centre
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Versijp, P., Lazar, P., Jacobs, W., & Yue, T. (2021). Pressure Makes Diamonds: Investing in Copper Mining in Laos (C). RSM Case Development Centre. Retrieved from