CHRISTINE Ramon, interim CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, pointed a barb at predator Sibanye-Stillwater during a digital gold industry roundtable today, saying it was not necessary for her company to “do a deal every two years”.
Responding to a question as to whether AngloGold would consider a merger with Gold Fields, Ramon said: “As the third largest gold producer, I think we have [critical mass] already; we have got optionality in our portfolio.
“We don’t have to do deals every two years to buy optionality,” she said, adding that consolidation would offer AngloGold “marginal gains so it’s important not to get distracted from our core focus of a quality portfolio.
“I’d like to leave it at that,” she concluded.
Although she was responding to a question about an AngloGold combination with Gold Fields, Ramon’s answer would have resonated with Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman, who has previously identified companies like AngloGold Ashanti, as well as Gold Fields, as potential takeover targets.
Froneman, who also attended the roundtable, said again today that having scale made a company more relevant to investors globally. He smiled during Ramon’s response in which she said at one point, haltingly: “… certainly consolidation is a topic”.
Sibanye-Stillwater has grown its market value ten times in the last three years, partly owing to the presence it has built in the platinum group metals (PGM) market. From 2016 to 2018, Sibanye-Stillwater conducted some $3bn worth in transactions, mostly in PGMs, but also in buying control of DRDGOLD, a gold retreatment company.
The roundtable was convened by the Investing in African Mining conference, led by Nedbank Securities analyst, Arnold van Graan. His recent research was quoted in Miningmx in which it was suggested that a takeover of Gold Fields or AngloGold would leave a gap in South Africa’s gold sector and therefore a merger of Gold Fields with AngloGold might be a more feasible option.
Ramon’s comments, however, are the clearest indication yet that AngloGold would not welcome a merger or takeover approach of any stripe, although she acknowledged mergers could provide some benefits, before warning: “Bigger isn’t necessarily better”.
Froneman was quoted in Miningmx as saying his company would not set about a hostile takeover of either AngloGold Ashanti or Gold Fields. “We think that hostile bids are value destructive. Our board has made it very clear to me that that’s not what we’re going to do,” he said.