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Merger Mania Could Be Golden For Miner ETFs

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Merger Mania Could Be Golden For Miner ETFs

The gold mining industry could be altered by more consolidation — a development that could alter the landscape for relevant gold miners exchange traded funds.

News broke Friday that Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: GOLD) is considering merging with rival Nemont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM), a move that would create the world's largest gold miner.

What Happened

As of Friday, Feb. 22, Barrick and Newmont combined for 19.46 percent of the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX), the largest gold miners ETF. Barrick, the world's second-largest gold miner, recently acquired Randgold Resources. The company is considering a $19-billion deal for Newmont, according to some media reports.

“A deal between the two world's largest bullion miners would create a mega-gold corporation, with assets in almost every continent, including Australia, Africa, the U.S. and Latin America,” reports Mining.com.

Why It's Important

Newmont is working on a deal to acquire Goldcorp Inc. (NYSE: GG), GDX's seventh-largest holding at a weight of 4.76 percent. If that deal is scuttled, Barrick would have to pay a $650-million breakup fee, according to Mining.com. Newmont's $10 billion for Goldcorp, which was announced last month, would create the world's largest gold miner in terms of market value and production.

Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ: PAAS), a smaller GDX holding, is acquiring Tahoe Resources Inc. (NYSE: TAHO) for nearly $1.1 billion.

Barrick's move to acquire Randgold Resources, which was announced in September, is seen as the deal that kickstarted much-needed industry consolidation.

If Barrick and Newmont come together, Goldcorp could be left without a partner, and smaller players in GDX's lineup — such as Anglogold Ashanti Ltd. (NYSE: AU) and Kinross Gold Corp. (NYSE: KGC) — could become takeover targets as well.

What's Next

Gold miners have worked to improve balance sheets, reducing debt following some ill-timed acquisitions at the height of the commodities cycle. Improving balance sheets, coupled with the need to bolster reserves because most of the world's easy-to-access bullion has already been mined, could spur increased industry consolidation.

GDX and other gold miner ETFs have made habits of lagging broader equity benchmarks during the recent bull market in domestic stocks. From 2013 through 2018, 2016 was the only year in which GDX beat the S&P 500.

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