Australia’s Newcrest Mining Ltd on Thursday rebuffed Newmont Corp’s $16.9 billion bid but left the door open for a better offer as it logged profit that surged past analyst expectations and paid out a special dividend.
Newcrest said its board had unanimously determined to reject the offer which it said did not offer sufficient value to shareholders, but said it would open its books for the world’s largest gold miner. Newmont did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Simon Mawhinney, portfolio manager at Allan Gray, Newcrest’s largest shareholder, said the board had made a reasonable decision to engage, and that he was pleased with the company’s decision to pay a special dividend.
“I have said that I thought the offer was a bit light. I guess it’s not surprising that the board has taken a similar view,” he said.
Analysts have said that the offer does not sufficiently value the long lives of Newcrest’s assets and also its contingent of copper, highly prized as a key metal in the energy transition.
Reuters had reported on Feb. 7 that Newmont was open to sweetening its offer amid concerns its current bid was too low after leadership changes at the Australian company.
“They have returned the proceeds from the sale of the Lundin financing facilities to shareholders as a special dividend, which I think is good governance,” Mawhinney added.
Shares in Newcrest fell 1% to A$24.07 early on Thursday.
Barrick Gold Corp chief executive Mark Bristow stuck to the company’s “build, not buy” approach and ruled out the possibility that Barrick would launch a counter bid for Newcrest in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
Newcrest declared a special dividend of 20 cents per share, after Canada’s Lundin Gold Inc repaid early a credit facility related to its Fruta del Norte mine in Ecuador.
The miner had beat analyst expectations on higher revenue with the addition of its Canadian Brucejack operations and higher sales volume for gold and copper at its key Cadia mine
Newcrest said its underlying profit was $293 million for the half-year ended Dec. 31, beating estimates of $184 million, according to Refinitiv. That compared with an underlying profit of $298 million a year earlier.
Lower realized gold and copper prices brought home lesser profit while increased activities and inflation drove up costs.
The miner received $1,696 for every ounce of gold sold in the six months ended Dec. 31, compared with $1,733 per ounce logged last year.
The company also declared an interim dividend of 15 cents per share, compared with last year’s 7.5 cents.
(By Melanie Burton, Roushni Nair and Savyata Mishra; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Matthew Lewis)