Gold Fields are turning into battle fields in South Africa where an attempt is underway to create the world’s biggest gold mining company. A firm called Gold Fields is the subject of a hostile take-over bid by its smaller rival Harmony Gold. The proposed bid price of 6.6 billion euros is all in shares, not cash. Gold Fields’ board called the offer “inadequate” and said it wants instead to merge with Iamgold, a Canadian company. Gold Fields is the world’s fourth largest producer .. last year it mined 4.2 million ounces, Harmony is sixth, it produced 3.3 million ounces in 2003.
The existing top three gold producers – Newmont, AngloGold and Barrick – might also now decide to bid rather than have an enlarged Harmony leap-frog ahead of them. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that earlier this year a 20% stake in Gold Fields was bought by the Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin and he is backing the bid by Harmony. For the Harmony offer to go ahead a majority of Gold Fields’ shareholders would have to vote against the Iamgold deal. There has been a rash of mergers in the gold industry recently as South Africa’s mining sector tries to gain economy of scale as it struggles to cope with the rising value of the rand against the dollar.