Russian billionaire Abramovich sells out in $1.4 bn gold deal

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Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is selling his stake in local mid-sized gold miner Highland Gold (LON: HGM), the latest in a series of mining deals involving the precious metal, which is trading at record highs.

Abramovich and other investors holding 40.06% of the Russia-focused gold miner have agreed to sell their shares to Fortiana Holdings Limited in a deal that values Highland at about $1.4 billion.

Fortiana, a Cyprus-registered company of Russian businessman Vladislav Sviblov, will make an offer to the rest of Highland’s shareholders at the same price of 3-pounds-per-share ($3.94), a 3.8% premium to Thursday’s closing price.

Highland Gold is one of Russia’s top 10 gold producers, operating several mines in the country’s Far East. 

The agreement follows Fortiana’s sale last month of about 5% in another Russian gold miner, Petropavlovsk. Selling that interest gave the company cash to pursue other investment opportunities, it said at the time. 

Spot gold has climbed about 29% this year on the back mixed factors, including haven demand, a weakening US dollar, negative real yields and a flood of monetary and fiscal stimulus.

Even with the likelihood of gold price volatility in the near term, investment demand should hold up over a longer time period, the World Gold Council said Thursday.

Abramovich sold last year a stake in Nornickel, Russia’s biggest mining company. The deal was the largest share sale by a Russian company since Magnit PJSC’s accelerated bookbuilt offering in November 2017.

Fortiana’s acquisition of a stake in Highland Gold is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)