Commodities & Metals

Is Newmont Mine Acquisition Better Than a Merger With Barrick?

gold bars nuggets
Source: Thinkstock
Less than two months ago there was talk that Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM) and Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX) were again considering a merger, after breaking off early talks in April of 2014 with an announcement that Barrick was interested but Newmont was not. Rumors and chatter persisted, but Newmont probably preempted further merger talk with its announcement Tuesday morning that it will purchase a Colorado mine from AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (NYSE: AU).

Newmont is paying $820 million for AngloGold’s Cripple Creek & Victor mine, plus a 2.5% net smelter return royalty for gold production from potential future underground ore. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to certain conditions and approvals.

To pay for the acquisition, Newmont also announced that it will issue 29 million new shares in a registered public offering. At Monday’s closing price of $25.91, that pencils out to more than $750 million. Joint bookrunners for the offering are Citigroup Global Markets, JPMorgan and HSBC Securities. The underwriters have a 30-day option on an additional 4.35 million shares. The offering has not priced yet.

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In April, AngloGold was said to be seeking a buyer for the Cripple Creek mine, and there were rumors that Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) might be interested, following the sale of a Kinross mine in Nevada. But Kinross’s financial performance over the past 12 months has been among the worst of the large gold miners, with the stock price down nearly 45%. Newmont has notched the best performance over the same period, up more than 12%, and for the year to date Newmont shares are up nearly 37%.

As for a merger with Barrick, Newmont failed to see any advantage in April 2014, and the outlook had not improved. At the same time, Barrick’s stock is down more than 27% in the past 12 months.

Newmont has sold assets worth nearly $1.5 billion over the past two years and has lowered its all-in sustaining costs by 18%, according to the company’s announcement. The Cripple Creek mine adds annual gold production of 350,000 to 400,000 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of $825 to $875 an ounce. That is lower than Newmont’s first-quarter range of around $960 to $1,020 an ounce.

Adding low-cost production equal to about 10% of the company’s total expected output for 2015 will help Newmont to lower its costs more quickly. This is a smart purchase, and were it not for the new share offering, Newmont stock would be getting a boost following the announcement.

Newmont’s shares traded down about 1.7% Tuesday morning, at $25.35 in a 52-week range of $17.60 to $27.90.

AngloGold stock traded up 10.3%, at $9.62 in a 52-week range of $7.45 to $18.69.

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