BARRICK Gold sounded out shareholders in First Quantum Minerals about a possible takeover of the copper producer after it ran into balance sheet difficulties last year amid a dispute with Panama.
Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow had asked First Quantum’s backers whether they would support his firm’s bid, said Bloomberg News citing people familiar with the situation. It was unclear if an offer would be forthcoming from the Canadian gold producer, said Bloomberg.
Bristow is thought to have expressed an interest in a deal with First Quantum last year in an effort to build his company’s copper production. On this occasion, however First Quantum is keen to shore up its balance sheet.
The Panamanian government ordered the closure of Cobré Panama last year after a court found its mining licence contravened 25 articles of its constitution. First Quantum had put $10bn into developing the 350,000 ton a year mine.
First Quantum’s biggest shareholder is the Capital Group with 22%. China’s Jiangxi Copper owns 18%, and is among those that have been approached by Barrick, Bloomberg reported. Jiangxi Copper is also discussing the possible purchase of a stake in First Quantum’s Zambian mines, according to a report by Reuters.