Big gold miners see muted M&A as bullion's rise limits bargains

Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:26pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept 21 (Reuters) - The world's biggest gold miners will stay shy of big acquisitions, top executives said this week, noting that a jump in the price of bullion has made potential purchases pricey, and memories of failed deals linger.

The need for financial discipline was the dominant theme at the Denver Gold Forum this week, an annual conference for top miners, as the sector emerges from a deep, four-year slump.

Executives met as the spot gold price surged by 30 percent in the first seven months of the year to as high as $1,374 an ounce. It has since slid to $1,326, still up 25 percent.

Had the industry experienced lower gold prices for longer this year, there would likely have been more mergers and acquisitions, said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive of Newmont Mining Corp, the biggest gold miner by market value.

"Folks who may have been knocking on our door have gone the other direction now that prices have come up," he said in an interview at the event in Colorado Springs.

Globally, gold miners have completed acquisitions worth just $4.6 billion this year in 142 deals, according to Thomson Reuters data. That is down 23 percent on the $6 billion worth of deals in the same period last year and far from the $37 billion worth in 2010.

"We look. We will continue to look, but most importantly we will stay disciplined," Kinross Gold CEO Paul Rollinson said.

Memories of a disastrous six-year acquisition spree as miners chased new gold reserves between 2006 and 2011 are still fresh for both executives and investors. Many of those overpriced deals ended in multibillion-dollar writedowns.   Continued...