Gold Veteran Says Bigger May Not Be Better as M&A Blitz Hits – by David Stringer and Ranjeetha Pakiam (Bloomberg News – January 15, 2019)

The $15 billion flurry of deal-making that will super-size the gold industry’s leading producers is no guarantee of better performance, according to an Australian miner who’s been outpacing larger competitors.

Rising gold prices and a hunt to boost additional reserves of the precious metal have spurred Newmont Mining Corp. and Barrick Gold Corp. to acquire rival companies and add more operations. Their moves have stoked expectations that other producers will now also look to combine.

“The thesis being offered is that bigger is better, and historically in the gold sector that hasn’t proven to be value creating for shareholders,” Jake Klein, executive chairman of Sydney-based Evolution Mining Ltd., said by phone on Tuesday. “This time it may be different, but certainly the past has not demonstrated that.”

Mid-sized and small producers including Evolution and Canada’s Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. are among those to have outperformed larger competitors over the past six years. A Bloomberg Index of 14 major gold companies has lost about 47 percent since the start of 2013, as spot gold fell about 23 percent. The precious metal traded at about $1,289 an ounce on Tuesday.

A surge in deal-making at the start of the decade, including Barrick’s C$7 billion ($5.3 billion) takeover of Equinox Minerals Ltd. in 2011 and Newcrest Mining Ltd.’s $9 billion acquisition of Lihir Gold Ltd. in 2010, resulted in producers later being forced to book major writedowns.

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