AngloGold Ashanti shares plummet on spin off announcement
AngloGold Ashanti’s (JSE:ANG) (NYSE:AU) shares dropped as much as 13% Wednesday after the world’s third-largest gold producer by volume revealed a major restructuring involving a plan to raise $2.1 billion in a rights issue and spin its international assets into a new London-listed company.
The announcement comes amid a slump in gold prices, which have fallen by a third in the past three years and helped drive AngloGold to $2.2 billion net loss last year.
The gold producer has also struggled with mounting energy and labour costs in South Africa, where it produces around one-third of its gold annually.
The miner, which gets about a third of its production from South African operations, said it would partially demerge 35% of the “newco” to its shareholders and would initially retain a 65% controlling interest in the entity.
The spin off will take place in the first half of 2015 with the capital raising taking place beforehand, AngloGold said.
The plan is the largest shake-up to be undertaken by a gold company since the sector was hit by the severe fall in the price of the precious metal over a year ago.
The Johannesburg-based company’s move follows mining giant BHP Billiton’s (ASX:BHP) recent decision to split some of its less profitable assets into a new Australian-listed company. Fellow gold miner Gold Fields (NYSE, JSE:GFI) also split its South African assets into a new company called Sibanye Gold (JSE:SGL )(NYSE:SBGL) in 2013.
Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE: ABX) and Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), the two largest gold producers by output, held talks earlier this year over a potential merger, which would also have seen them spin off lower earning international assets to concentrate on their combined holdings in North and South America.
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