Directors of Newmont Mining Corp. asked shareholders yesterday to "defer" a decision whether to accept or reject a $95-a-share, $2.66 billion tender offer from an investment group led by T. Boone Pickens Jr. In a letter to shareholders, the board of the New York gold, coal and energy company also said it is "currently considering" an unsolicited takeover offer from Pickens' Ivanhoe Partners.

"The board of directors encourages you to defer your decision whether to accept or reject the IP offer until you have had the benefit of and reflected on the board's recommendations," said Gordon Parker, Newmont's chairman, president and chief executive officer.

The announcement came one day after Ivanhoe launched the hostile cash tender offer for 28 million Newmont shares. If the tender offer is successful, Ivanhoe would control 51 percent of Newmont's stock. Newmont, which has planned a board meeting Thursday, said it would review the Ivanhoe offer and make a recommendation to shareholders by Sept. 21. Ivanhoe already owns a 9.95 percent stake in Newmont. If it obtained all the shares it seeks in its tender offer, the Pickens group would own 34.6 million shares of Newmont, of the 66 million outstanding.