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Equinox Gold chairman says Leagold deal a natural in sector where 'size matters'

The chairman of Equinox Gold Corp. says the purchase of Leagold Mining Corp. in a friendly all-stock deal makes sense in an industry where “size matters” more than ever before.

On a conference call after announcing the deal valued at about $770 million on Monday, Ross Beaty said the merging of two “young, dynamic companies,” both based in Vancouver, is a natural.

“We have real synergies. We have exclusively Americas assets. We have outstanding management teams on both sides with long, successful track records. Strong financial capacity,” he said.

“And it’s a true merger of equals, avoiding the kind of unconscionable premiums that investors hate, and building true scale and value.”

Equinox is offering 0.331 of an Equinox share for each Leagold share, resulting in a combined company that will be owned about 55 per cent by Equinox shareholders at the time of closing. 

On the joint conference call, Leagold CEO Neil Woodyer said the deal “takes us into another league,” by strengthening its balance sheet, bringing in a long-term strategic partner and offering greater shareholder liquidity.

The transaction is the latest in a busy year of mergers and acquisitions involving Canadian gold miners, but it may not be the last.

Canadian Endeavour Mining Corp. said Monday it is continuing to talk with Centamin plc about combining the two Africa-focused gold mining companies, both of which are listed in Toronto.

It said the CEO of Endeavour and the chairman of Centamin met in Perth, Australia, on Saturday to discuss the merits of the proposed transaction and a potential due diligence exercise, a few days after the companies entered into a mutual non-disclosure agreement.

If the Equinox-Leagold merger is approved by shareholders at meetings expected to be held next month and finalized, the combined company will operate under the Equinox Gold name and keep its headquarters in Vancouver.

It is expected to have capitalization of about $1.3 billion and production from six operating mines in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

Output of 700,000 ounces in 2020 is expected to increase to one million ounces per year during 2021 and beyond, based on analyst consensus estimates, Equinox said.

Equinox also announced plans to complete a $670-million financing package consisting of a $40-million equity investment from its chairman, a $130-million debenture issued to Mubadala Investment Co. and $500 million in commitments from a syndicate of lenders to refinance existing credit facilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2019.

Companies in this story: (TSX:EQX, TSX:LMC, TSX:EDV, TSX:CEE)

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press