Social Distancing CEOs Buck M&A Slump With Pandemic Gold Deals

Gold miners are forging ahead with mergers and acquisitions, taking advantage of an investor flight to the haven during the coronavirus crisis.

Despite the logistical problems the pandemic has created -- both for operations and for arranging face-to-face meetings to hammer out transaction details -- consolidation is picking up steam with three proposed gold deals announced in the last week.

That’s in contrast to broader M&A activity across the globe, where almost $16 billion of mergers, acquisitions and investments have been terminated over the past 30 days. The gold industry is bucking that trend as investors rush to bullion while fleeing risk assets including equities and oil.

Spot gold prices have climbed more than 12% so far this year. That follows an 18% gain last year, on broader global growth fears, which had helped drive a series of deals in the last six months.

“From a Covid-19 perspective, I think we’ve all adjusted,” Rodney ‘Rod’ Antal, chief executive officer of Colorado-based Alacer Gold Corp., told analysts Monday following news of a tie-up with Vancouver-based SSR Mining Inc. “We haven’t missed a beat.”

  • Also on Monday, Toronto, Canada-based Gran Colombia Gold Corp. submitted a proposal to buy Guyana Goldfields Inc. in another all-stock deal. If it goes through, Gran Colombia will also buy Colorado-based Gold X Mining Corp.
  • On Friday, TMAC Resources Inc. said China’s Shandong Gold Mining Co. will buy it in a deal valued at about $149 million.

SSR had been looking at potential opportunities for five years, CEO Paul Benson told analysts, and he and Antal were able to meet face-to-face before lockdowns. They continued negotiations from afar as the virus spread. “It hasn’t actually impacted this deal; we’ve done everything remotely,” he said.

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