January 16, 2020 / 1:26 PM / a month ago

Kirkland's C$4.4 billion bid for Detour wins backing from proxy advisory firms

TORONTO (Reuters) - Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd’s (KL.TO) C$4.4 billion ($3.4 billion)all-stock offer to buy rival Detour Gold Corp DGC.TO has won backing from two influential proxy advisory firms on grounds the target’s shareholders would reap benefits from a larger company, bolstering chances of the deal going ahead.

Detour Gold said on Thursday that Glass Lewis & Co and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc recommended shareholders vote for in favor of the takeover, which Kirkland has said will generate up to $100 million in annual savings and add 600,000 ounces to its annual capacity.

Kirkland in November offered 0.4343 share for each Detour Gold share amid a wave of gold sector consolidation. But Kirkland investors balked at the 24% premium, sending the shares down sharply.

ISS said Detour shareholders would benefit from holding a significant stake in a multi-asset gold miner with significantly lower production costs and a more favorable risk profile.

“The premium, albeit muted as a result of the post-announcement decline in the acquirer’s shares, also appears more meaningful in an M&A environment that promotes deals that offer synergies in the place of control premiums,” the firm said.

Detour’s Toronto-listed shares fell about 1% to C$25.33 on Thursday. Kirkland stock was flat at C$58.13.

Glass Lewis said in a statement dated Jan. 15 that Kirkland’s proposal is in the best interests of Detour shareholders, giving them exposure to Kirkland’s high-quality assets as investors in a senior gold producer.

“The support of these leading independent proxy advisors further demonstrates that the transaction represents a compelling opportunity for our shareholders to participate in the creation of a diversified, low-cost and growth-oriented senior gold producer with enhanced financial flexibility,” Detour Chief Executive Mick McMullen said in a statement.

Shareholders of both companies are slated to vote Jan. 28.

Reporting by Jeff Lewis; Editing by Alex Richardson and Richard Chang

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