Gold Fields confident investors will back $7 billion Yamana deal

Chris Griffith, CEO of Gold Fields. (File image)

Gold Fields Ltd.’s top executive said disquiet over the South African miner’s $7 billion offer to buy Canada’s Yamana Gold Inc. hasn’t resulted in an exodus among its top shareholders.

The top Gold Fields investors are sticking around even after some shareholders initially expressed concerns that the Johannesburg-based company was overpaying to buy Yamana, Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith said Tuesday in an interview. The CEO previously acknowledged that some investors initially balked at the 34% premium Gold Fields initially offered to investors of the Toronto-based miner along with the subsequent share dilution.

“There hasn’t been a major exodus of our top shareholders,” Griffith said while attending the Denver Gold Forum. “We have seen some shareholders sell on a bit but others increase. But mostly our top 10 shareholders have remained fairly constant — that does give us a sense of comfort around our shareholders supporting the deal.”

Gold Fields offered 0.6 of a share for each Yamana share in its initial proposal in May, and in July the company announced a more generous dividend policy to convince investors to support the deal. The deal currently values Yamana’s stock at C$6.01, representing a 6.7% premium to Tuesday’s closing price, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Gold Fields counts South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. and BlackRock Inc. among its biggest shareholders. The gold producer needs at least 75% of its investors to back the takeover of Yamana, which has assets in Canada, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. The deal is key to Gold Fields’ expansion in the Americas after shifting focus from its home country, where producers are struggling with the geological challenges of operating some of the world’s deepest mines.

Griffith said he sees shareholders from both companies backing the transaction. Still, Gold Fields, which also has assets in Ghana, Australia and Latin America, won’t “fall over” if the deal doesn’t go through, he said. The company will send investors a circular on the deal in mid-October, with a vote from shareholders expected in mid-November.

“We absolutely remain confident in our ability to get the deal over the line,” Griffith said.

(By Yvonne Yue Li and Felix Njini)

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