AngloGold picks Harmony to buy South African assets

Mponeng is the world’s deepest mine and AngloGold’s last underground operation in South Africa. (Photo by JMK | Wikimedia Commons)

AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) has chosen Harmony Gold (NYSE: HMY) as buyer for its last remaining South African operations, according to Bloomberg.

The two companies are still finalizing the exact terms of the deal for the Mponeng gold mine and surface facilities.

AngloGold is selling the assets as chief executive officer Kelvin Dushnisky focuses on more profitable mines in Ghana, Australia and the Americas. Harmony — backed by billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals Ltd. — is hunting for deals to replenish declining reserves in South Africa. Harmony paid $300 million for AngloGold’s Moab Khotsong mine in 2017.

Marian Van Der Walt, a spokeswoman for Harmony, and AngloGold spokesman Chris Nthite declined to comment.

Mponeng, the world’s deepest mine, produced 265,000 ounces of gold in 2018, while output from the surface operations, which extract the precious metal from ore dumps, totaled 171,000 ounces. Those South African assets accounted for about 13% of AngloGold’s production that year.

AngloGold said last week that it plans to provide an update on the asset sale on Feb. 21. In November, AngloGold narrowed the list of bidders for its South African assets to Harmony and Sibanye Gold Ltd. (NYSE: SBGL), people familiar with the matter said at the time.

The strategic rationale to find a buyer “trumps a straight valuation call” for the operations, said James Bell, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in London. AngloGold needs to sell the assets before it can move its primary listing from Johannesburg to London, “something that we think could drive a material re-rating in time.”

(By Felix Njini)

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