Falling gold price could halt mergers and acquisitions

July 21, 2015

The price of gold fell to its lowest level in five years, $1,088/oz. If that wasn’t bad enough, the news of the tumbling prices might be enough to halt the run of mergers and acquisitions in the industry just as momentum in the sector was picking up,



The sharp decline could lead to more caution from those companies on the prowl for acquisitions, at least until there are some signs of stabilization.

The value of completed gold mining mergers and acquisitions so far this year has reached $3.2 billion, compared with $4.4 billion for all of 2014, according to Reuters data.

The Australian and Canadian indices fell 11 percent each, while the Johannesburg Stock Exchange gold index dropped 12 percent.

“There's still an appetite to grow through M&A (mergers and acquisitions),” said Hedley Widdup, a fund manager at Melbourne-based Lion Selection Group, which invests in small mining companies and explorers.

“The issue now is shareholders and funds providers will be looking at the gold price and wondering about valuation,” Widdup said.

Jake Klein, executive chairman of Australia’s Evolution Mining, one of the most acquisitive gold miners this year, wouldn’t rule out more purchases as long as they can add value.

For the most part, that points to mines and prospects in commodity-based economies such as Australia, where gold's plunge has been offset by a weaker currency that has boosted returns for domestic miners.

While the U.S. dollar denominated gold price is down more than 40 percent from its September 2011 peak, gold has only fallen about 20 percent in Australian dollar terms.

Evolution in May raised A$172 million to help pay for its $550 million acquisition of the Cowal gold mine in Australia from Canada’s Barrick Gold, receiving strong support from existing institutional shareholders and new investors.

Andrew Cole, chief executive of Oz Minerals said his company has already passed over a few opportunities this year, but was still on the lookout in both gold and copper.

For Oz Minerals, said Cole, “It's absolutely a global search.”


Related article search: