MINING FINANCE / INVESTMENT
Goldcorp/New Gold close El Morro copper/gold project deal, but Barrick will still sue
Goldcorp and New Gold closed the El Morro deal Tuesday, but Barrick will still challenge it in the Canadian courts.
Posted: Thursday , 18 Feb 2010
TORONTO (Reuters) -
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) will push ahead with a lawsuit to break up Goldcorp's (G.TO) acquisition of most of the El Morro project in Chile from New Gold (NGD.TO), even though the transaction closed this week, a Barrick official said on Wednesday.
Barrick, the world's largest gold miner, agreed in October to buy a 70 percent stake in El Morro -- a copper and gold project -- from its owner, Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata (XTA.L), for $465 million.
But that bid was scuttled when New Gold, the minority stakeholder in El Morro, claimed right of first refusal on Xstrata's stake and structured a deal to sell it to Goldcorp. Barrick said in mid-January it would sue Goldcorp and New Gold, claiming the deal was structured improperly.
In a statement on Tuesday, Goldcorp said it had completed the transaction, but Barrick spokesman Vince Borg said Barrick still expects to see New Gold and Goldcorp in court.
"Fundamentally, we remain of the view that Xstrata were obliged to close with us," he said. "Whether they closed or not, the courts will sort out."
Barrick filed its claim in an Ontario court, even though its disagreement centers on an interpretation of Chilean law.
Toronto-based Barrick alleges New Gold and Goldcorp acted improperly when New Gold essentially transferred its right of first refusal on the stake to Goldcorp.
El Morro is an advanced stage project holding reserves of 5.7 billion pounds of copper and 6.7 million ounces of gold.
While it is more of a copper than a gold project, gold miners are increasingly embracing projects with a high proportion of base metals due to a scarcity of large pure gold projects.
Barrick hopes to realize costs savings due to El Morro's proximity to other operations it has in the area, including its Pascua Lama project.
Vancouver-based Goldcorp, the world's No. 2 gold miner by market value, hopes to establish a presence in Chile.
A court date has not yet been set.
Barrick shares were up 62 Canadian cents at C$39.65 on the Toronto Stock Exchange in late trade on Wednesday, while Goldcorp was up 40 Canadian cents at C$40.48. Vancouver-based New Gold was up 9 Canadian cents at C$5.08.
($1=$1.05 Canadian) (Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway)