TORONTO (Reuters) - Barrick Gold is reviewing the financial backing behind an approximately $1.3 billion bid for its stake in Australia’s Kalgoorlie mine by Minjar Gold, a unit of Shanghai-listed Shandong Tyan Home, two sources told Reuters.
Toronto-based Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, is studying the offer for the 50 percent stake to ensure Minjar has adequate resources and support to complete the transaction, said the sources, who declined to be identified as the matter is private. Barrick declined to comment.
Little-known Minjar has trumped offers by Australian, Chinese and Canadian companies for the asset, the sources said.
Newmont Mining, Barrick’s joint venture partner at Kalgoorlie and mine operator, has said it was interested in buying the remaining stake, but price has been a sticking a point.
It was unclear if Newmont was interested in matching Minjar’s offer, but the sources said the price made a counter-offer less likely.
Newmont spokesman Omar Jabara declined to comment, saying only that “Barrick will decide which of the offers it received makes the most sense for them.”
Minjar, which is based in Perth, Australia and incorporated in that country, is a subsidiary of Shandong Tyan Home, which is primarily involved in Chinese property development and management.
With the recent drop in gold prices, it is uncertain if Minjar will continue to stand by its offer, the sources said.
Spot gold was trading at $1,185.90 on Thursday, touching nine-month lows.
Earlier this year, Minjar agreed to buy a small gold mine in Australia from Evolution Mining for A$52 million.
A trading halt on Shandong Tyan shares extended for a fourth session on Thursday, after the company said on Monday there was a pending announcement related to a major plan.
Earlier this week, The Australian newspaper reported that Minjar would buy the Barrick asset and a deal announcement was expected Monday, but that did not happen.
Kalgoorlie is the latest in a string of assets that Barrick has put up for sale to whittle down debt and is the company’s last remaining holding in Australia.
Barrick announced sale plans in July and the company’s president said in September that there was “robust” interest in the asset, which analysts estimated was worth $600 million to $1 billion.
China’s appetite for acquisitions in the metals and mining sector has gained alongside metals prices. According to consultancy EY, China was the highest value dealmaker in the sector in the third quarter. The country was the target of $2.4 billion worth of deals and acquirer of $3.8 billion worth, EY said.
Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Alan Crosby