Iamgold CEO expects more buyout deals in gold industry

Westwood gold mine in Canada. (Image courtesy of IAMGOLD)

The gold industry is likely to see an increase in buyout deals in the near future as miners fight to attract a shrinking pool of investment capital, the chief executive of Canada’s Iamgold Corp said on Wednesday.

The industry’s buyout frenzy was sparked earlier this year when Barrick Gold Corp and Newmont bought Randgold Resources and Goldcorp, respectively, deals that created the world’s two largest gold producers.

Deal-making had largely been dormant in the gold sector in recent years, as companies focused on cutting costs amid investor criticism of inadequate management of capital. But the need to bolster shrinking gold reserves to boost growth and appease increasingly vocal investors are now providing the impetus for more transactions.

“There are too many mid-tier miners. The capital pool is shrinking” — Iamgold CEO

“We are going to see consolidation” in the gold industry, Stephen Letwin, Iamgold’s CEO, said at the Mines & Money conference in New York. “There are too many mid-tier miners. The capital pool is shrinking.”

Letwin, who has run the Toronto-based company since 2010, declined to comment when asked about any potential deals that could involve Iamgold.

Iamgold operates mines in Burkina Faso, Suriname, Canada and other locations around the world.

Letwin said Iamgold gets “a lot of interest” from Chinese investors and that he doesn’t see gold prices rising sharply in the near future due to the continuing strength of the U.S. economy.

“People are downright tired of waiting for the gold price to move higher,” he said. “We need a lower U.S. dollar, a lower U.S. economy, for gold prices to rise.”

Shares of Iamgold fell 2.2% to C$3.94 in Toronto on Wednesday morning. The stock has lost about 21% since January.

(By Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)