South Africa

Gold Fields investors warming up to $7 billion Yamana deal

Gold Fields Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith said he’s getting positive investor feedback on the miner’s $7 billion acquisition of Canada’s Yamana Gold after initial concerns about paying too much.

Griffith said that the Johannesburg-based miner’s investors are gaining more understanding of the deal’s rationale before a vote, probably at the end of October or early November.

Some investors initially baulked at the 34% premium Gold Fields offered to Yamana investors and the subsequent share dilution. Gold Fields on Thursday raised its interim dividend by 43% and has promised a more generous payout policy as it seeks investor backing for the deal.

“So post the results, we have been receiving a lot more positive feedback,” Griffith said in an interview. “Shareholders are starting to understand the strategy of the company, the rationale for the deal and why we’ve paid the price that we’ve paid for that deal.”

Gold Fields, which has BlackRock and South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. among its biggest shareholders, needs investor backing for its takeover of Yamana, which has assets in Canada, Argentina, Chile and Brazil.

The acquisition will enable Gold Fields to continue expanding in the Americas after shifting focus from its home country, where producers struggle with the geological challenges of operating some of the world’s deepest mines.

Griffith said a circular with more details on the deal would be published by the end of September or early October. At least 75% of Gold Fields investors must support the deal for the transaction to close. Griffith declined to comment on the level of support the deal has so far.

“We are very much on track, is what we would say,” Griffith said. “We are getting shareholders certainly to understand the prospects of the deal.”

Gold Fields raised its interim payout to R3 ($0.18) a share after first-half profit jumped 32% to about $510 million from a year earlier. The hefty payouts show the company is in “good shape,” Griffith said.

“You much rather do a deal when you’re in a strong position than when you in a weak position,” he said.

Gold Fields shares fell 0.4% by 3:50 p.m. in Johannesburg, bringing this year’s decline to 14%. Shares of Yamana slipped 0.3% to C$6.29 in Toronto.

The company isn’t considering further “sweeteners” to the deal for Toronto-based Yamana after raising its payout ratio to 45% of normalized earnings next year to win over sceptical investors, Griffith said. Gold Fields investors may not be “particularly happy if all of a sudden we want to sweeten the deal,” Griffith said on a call.