Gold Fields CEO stepping down after failed Yamana bid

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South African giant Gold Fields Ltd. [GFI-NYSE, GFI] says CEO Chris Griffith is stepping down after telling the company’s board that he wanted to take responsibility for its recent failure to acquire Yamana Gold Inc. [YRI-TSX, AUY-NYSE].

Gold Fields lost out after Yamana accepted a rival offer from Pan American Silver Corp. [PAAS-TSX, NASDAQ] and Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM-TSX, AEM-NYSE).

Gold Fields said Griffith will step down from the Board of Directors and as CEO effective December 31, 2022.

“We were all disappointed that the Yamana deal did not go through, as we felt it was a compelling deal which would have created a strong company and created value for all shareholders,’’ said Gold Fields Chairperson Yunus Suleman.

“Griffith last month told the board he wanted to take responsibility for the Yamana deal failure and his departure was mutually agreed,’’ said Suleman.

“The Yamana setback should not be allowed to impede the company’s strategy,” Griffith added in a statement.  “So, I felt that I should take responsibility and allow the company to move forward under new leadership unencumbered by the Yamana transaction,’’ he said.

Gold Fields said in a conference call this morning that it is still looking at M&A as part of its growth strategy but focus is now on tuck-in deals rather than large size deals like the Yamana transaction.

Gold Fields’ bid for Yamana was worth US$6.7 billion when it was announced. It would have made the combined company the globe’s third largest gold producer and fourth largest by market capitalization.

However, Gold Fields elected not to sweeten its offer when Yamana Gold Inc. opted for a rival offer from Pan American Silver Corp. [PAAS-TSX, NASDAQ] and Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM-TSX, AEM-NYSE).

Yamana was a Canadian precious metals producer with significant gold and silver production, development stage properties and exploration properties in the Americas, including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Canada.

The Pan American offer, worth US$4.8 billion, involved the acquisition all the issued and outstanding shares of Yamana, followed by the sale of certain subsidiaries and partnerships holding Yamana’s interests in its Canadian assets to Agnico, including a 50% interest in the Canadian Malartic mine, which ranks as Canada’s largest gold mine and Yamana’s biggest producer.

The mine was held jointly by Agnico-Eagle and Yamana.

The Pan American-Agnico arrangement has established Pan American as a major precious metals producer in Latin America, with approximately 28.5 to 30 million ounces of annual silver production and approximately 1.1 to 1.2 million ounces of annual gold production, based on Pan American’s and Yamana’s 2022 guidance.

The combined portfolio consists 12 operations concentrated in Latin America. The deal gave Agnico-Eagle operational control of the Canadian Malartic mine during the remaining development of the Odyssey project at Canadian Malartic and future projects nearby.

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