Commodities & Metals

Is Eldorado Gold Smart to Leave China?

If you have watched financial news and economics reports for a couple of decades or more, you might think it sounds crazy for any company to leave China. That isn’t the case for all sectors, and mining and producing gold may be done cheaper elsewhere in the world.

News was out on Monday that Eldorado Gold Corp. (NYSE: EGO) was exiting China. This is after being in China for 11 years. Eldorado is selling its stakes in two Chinese mines and a development project, and the announced sale is expected to close in the second half of 2016, subject to approvals.

A company named Yintai Resources is paying some $600 million in cash to pay for the transaction. Eldorado’s stakes were 95% in White Mountain and 90% in Tanjianshan. It held a 75% stake in the Eastern Dragon project. Eldorado Gold previously was reported to be considering a sale of its assets in China, or even listing the shares in Hong Kong or seeking another spin-out.

Eldorado first went into China back in 2005, with production starting the following year. It acquired Sino Gold in 2009, which gave it the Jinfeng and White Mountain projects.

What was interesting here is that Eldorado may have been the largest non-Chinese gold producer that was in China. Eldorado reportedly had been searching for an answer on how to maximize the value of its assets in China.

Another issue to consider here is that news of this sale is after news from April that Eldorado reached a sale of its Jinfeng mine stake. That $300 million transaction involved China National Gold Group.

As far as what this $600 million price tag translates to, it appears to be more than 50% higher than what it was carrying the value as on the books. Eldorado will now focus on projects that have lower costs of production and that are deemed to be longer lived. Its gold mine projects are in Brazil, Greece, Romania and Turkey.

It was just on Monday that Credit Suisse raised its target price on Eldorado Gold and several other miners and producers. Eldorado’s new target was raised to $6.00 from $4.50 for the U.S.-listed targets in that call.

Investors may want to consider that Eldorado Gold shares hit a 52-week high of $5.16 in New York trading earlier on Tuesday. Despite being up 2% at $5.02 Tuesday afternoon, the new 52-week range is now $1.87 to $5.16. Thomson Reuters has a consensus analyst target price of $5.01, and the market cap is roughly $3.6 billion.

Eldorado Gold had a cash balance of more than $300 million at the end of 2015, if you tally up its cash, securities and short-term investments. Its level of net tangible assets was $3.7 billion at the end of 2015.

It may also be worth noting that the asset sale agreement provides for an equivalent of a $30 million deposit to be paid by the purchaser, and to be forfeited under certain circumstances, and a reverse break-fee of the same amount, to be paid by Eldorado to the purchaser under certain circumstances.

Paul Wright, president and CEO of Eldorado Gold, said of this transaction:

We are very pleased to have reached this agreement as this transaction recognizes immediate value to both companies and its shareholders.  We are proud of our history and the accomplishments achieved by the hard work of all of our Chinese employees.  The proposed transaction provides Yintai the opportunity to build on our achievements in China. We look forward to closing the sale of both transactions and advancing our internal project pipeline.

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