February 25, 2019 / 2:37 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Evolution Mining buys 19.9 pct stake in Tribune Resources

(Adds background on M&A deals in sector, comment from UBS note)

Feb 25 (Reuters) - Australian gold company Evolution Mining Ltd said on Monday it had acquired a 19.9 percent stake in smaller peer Tribune Resources Ltd for A$41.3 million ($29.55 million).

Evolution said Tribune’s major asset was its interest in the East Kundana mining operation in Western Australia, a joint venture between Northern Star Resources Ltd, Rand Mining Ltd and Tribune.

Gold producers have been on a deal-making spree to boost their waning reserves amid higher bullion prices.

Earlier this year, Newmont Mining announced a $10- billion takeover of Goldcorp Inc, on the heels of Barrick Gold’s purchase of Randgold Resources.

Gold producers that have good assets but face stagnant growth are seeking to partner with well-run companies, according to bankers and analysts.

Barrick said on Friday it considered making an all-stock bid for U.S. rival Newmont Mining Corp, a potential deal that would create a monolith in the global gold sector and likely push smaller peers to start buying each other.

Barrick, already the world’s largest gold miner, said its contemplated proposal did not offer any premium to Newmont shareholders and that no decision had been taken yet.

The divestment goals announced by the Newmont-Goldcorp combine and the new Barrick-Randgold combination provide “a significant opportunity” for the ASX-listed names to acquire assets, according to UBS analysts.

“Australian gold producers have stronger balance sheets than their North American peers. We think Evolution & Northern Star are best placed to make accretive acquisitions given their strong track records in this area,” said UBS in a note last month.

Evolution shares dropped as much as 2.4 percent in morning trade, while Tribune stock went up as much as 3.4 percent. ($1 = 1.3974 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru. Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)

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