Sébastien de Montessus

Sébastien de Montessus

Endeavour Mining Corporation

Endeavour Mining is in one of those peculiar situations that companies reach; a type of investment adolescence between early promise and maturity. That’s because the firm’s merger and acquisition activity is largely over, but its organic growth and exploration strategy is yet to fully materialise. Its first major growth project, the Houndé gold mine in Burkina Faso, has been commissioned but it’s not yet firing on all cylinders, while the next-in-line project – the $412m Ity CIL project in Côte d’Ivoire – is still being commissioned, some two months early. The early commissioning date means capex has been accelerated incurring higher-than-expected debt of some $535m in the third quarter – a 142% year-on-year increase which CEO, Sébastien de Montessus, says is a temporary vulnerability. So: if this is a gawky teenage Endeavour, what does a grown-up Endeavour look like? That can be defined by De Montessus himself on his approach to possible acquisition targets: they must have all-in sustaining costs less than $800 per ounce, a 10-year life of mine, and at least 3 million ounces in reserves. That’s why the company sold Nzema, a mine in Ghana, for $65m in 2017 as well as Mali’s Tabakoto, sold for $60m in 2018. Once Ity CIL is on line production should be around 800,000 from 2018 guidance of 590,000 oz. Then debt can be reined in. But investors are cautious: Endeavour’s share price is at near two-year lows at the time of writing.

“I would like to buy Kibali, but Mark Bristow (Barrick CEO) won’t sell it.”

LIFE OF SÉBASTIEN

De Montessus took over from Endeavour founding CEO, Neil Woodyer, in 2016 as a precondition of Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawaris’ effective takeover. De Montessus was previously head of mining for AREVA, France’s nuclear reactor manufacturer where he won headlines for ordering the investigation into its botched $2.5bn takeover of UraMin. De Montessus resigned from AREVA, ending a 10-year stint in an effort to draw a line under the imbroglio. He has a background in investment banking and is a graduate of Paris’ ESCP-Europe Business School.