La Mancha launches $1.4 billion gold mining fund

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has been betting on gold. (Screenshot from DLDconference video | YouTube.)

La Mancha Holdings, owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, has unveiled a $1.4 billion fund to hold the magnate’s gold mining investments and pursue new opportunities in the sector.

The vehicle, named La Mancha Fund SCSp, is open to new investors and will also invest in battery metals needed for electric vehicles, the Luxembourg-based private firm said.

It noted that the first closing had already been completed with the receipt of all of La Mancha’s gold mining assets, which include a 19.1% stake in Endeavour Mining (TSX, LON: EDV), 33.4% in Golden Star (NYSE, TSX: GSS), and a 35.1% interest in Altus Strategies (AIM: ALS) (TSX-V: ALTS).

The fund is also in possession of $100 million provided by an un-named strategic partner now investing alongside the Sawiris family.

The fund will look into junior miners and encourage further consolidation through mergers and acquisitions

It will look into junior miners and encourage further consolidation through mergers and acquisitions. It will also seek to improve the environmental, social and governance performance of the sector and broaden its appeal.

“Creating a fund is the natural consequence of what we have been doing since we vended-in our operational assets into Evolution and Endeavour in 2015,” Naguib Sawiris, Chairman of La Mancha’s board, said in the statement.

“Transitioning to a fund structure and welcoming new investors is timely when we are seeing opportunities in a gold mining sector which is fragmented and needs further consolidation,” he said.

Sawiris’ love for gold is not a secret. Last year, he increased his exposure to the metal as the traditional haven struggled amid the market turmoil triggered by the first wave of covid-19.

“I believe that when there is crisis, when people are done covering their margin cost, it’s gonna go up,” Sawiris predicted in a Bloomberg TV interview in March last year. “I’m still a buyer and I’m still increasing my position, but I’m only buying mining shares [for now]” he said at the time.

One million ounces waiting to be mined

It is said the Egyptian government has approached Sawiris about a potential acquisition of a stake in Shalateen. The state-run mining company is sitting on a newly discovered gold deposit with estimated resources of 1 million ounces. No official announcements have been made so far.

Sawiris, the son of Onsi Sawiris, who founded Orascom Construction, built a name by investing primarily in the telecom sector in Egypt and in less popular markets including Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea and Bangladesh.

He also bought Italy’s Wind Telecomunicazioni before merging it, along with a number of his telecom assets, with Veon Ltd. in 2011. Since then he has diversified into the mining and financial sectors.

La Mancha Capital Advisory LLP (LMCA) will advise the new fund, after consulting an advisory committee made up of mining professionals and chaired by Sawiris.