November 25, 2019 / 10:24 AM / 19 days ago

Global miner BHP to become top shareholder in Ecuador-focused SolGold

FILE PHOTO: Visitors to the BHP (formerly known as BHP Billiton) booth speak with representatives during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

(Reuters) - BHP Group (BHP.AX) will pay 17.1 million pounds ($21.9 million) to become the biggest shareholder in SolGold Plc (SOLG.L), the majority owner of the Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador.

BHP, the world’s biggest miner, said it would raise its stake in the Brisbane-based miner to 14.7% from 11.1% by purchasing 77 million new shares in SolGold for 22.15 pence each, a 13.1% premium to SolGold’s last close of 19.58 pence.

SolGold said this would make BHP the largest shareholder by a small margin.

Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd (NCM.AX) was, until now, SolGold’s largest shareholder, Refinitiv data showed.

Shares of the SolGold jumped 15.9% to 22.70 pence after Bloomberg earlier reported that BHP was going to increase its stake in the London and Toronto-listed copper miner.

BHP will also have options to buy more than 19.25 million SolGold shares, exercisable until Nov. 25, 2024 at a price of 37 pence per share, the global miner said.

“SolGold’s view is that the agreement endorses its view of SolGold’s commanding Ecuadorean copper and gold exploration footprint, and in particular the robust Alpala deposit,” SolGold Chief Executive Nicholas Mather said in a statement.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey and Edmund Blair

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