Ghana plans $500 mln London listing of gold royalty fund - sources

Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Abhinav Ramnarayan, Clara Denina and Helen Reid

LONDON/JOHANNESBURG, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Ghana, Africa's largest gold producer, is planning an up to $500 million listing of its gold royalty fund in London in October, though the deal could still run into political opposition, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Agyapa Royalties, a government-backed fund that holds equity interests including mining royalties in the state's gold assets, has hired Bank of America BAC.N and JPMorgan JPM.N to pursue an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange this year, the sources said.

Royalties are payments that give the owner the right to receive a percentage of production from a mining operation, or retain a stake in them.

Ghana wants to take advantage of the precious metal's strong performance this year to raise $400 million-$500 million from the IPO, the sources said. The fund's shares will also be listed on the Ghanaian Stock Exchange.

However, the listing could be derailed or pushed back because of resistance from Ghana's main opposition party ahead of a December general election, the sources said.

"It's genuinely 50-50 at the moment, but if the local politics works out, the deal is ready to go this year," said one of the sources.

The listing provides an opportunity to raise funds without increasing the national debt burden, Ghana's deputy minister for finance Charles Adu Boahen said, and capital raised will be invested in infrastructure, education, health, and housing.

In written answers to Reuters' questions, Adu Boahen dismissed the opposition National Democratic Congress's criticism of the listing and said Agyapa Royalties' registration in Jersey is for tax efficiency.

"The Opposition is saying many things, which is understandable considering this is an election year," he said. "Agyapa does not seek secrecy and... will comply with international corporate governance standards."

JP Morgan declined to comment while Bank of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If it goes ahead, the listing would benefit from a surge in gold prices as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed investors into safe-haven investments.

While the spot gold price has come off a record high hit in August, it is still up a whopping 27% so far this year at $1,931 an ounce XAU=.

Canadian companies Yamana Gold and Wheaton Precious Metals have both signalled their intention to add a London listing this year.

For London investors, it is an opportunity to increase gold exposure and potentially fill the gap left by South Africa's Randgold, which delisted in 2018.

The deal would also come at a time when the market for IPOs has come roaring back after a dismal first half of the year, with The Hut Group THG.L sealing a 5.4 billion pound ($6.99 billion) float last week.

(Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan, Clara Denina and Helen Reid; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Hugh Lawson)

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