Paulson Urges Underperforming Gold Miner to Seek a Buyer

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson is among investors pushing for Canadian miner Detour Gold Corporation (TO:DGC). to put itself up for sale, citing stock losses amid managerial missteps.

In a letter to the Toronto-based company’s board, Paulson & Co. said directors had “failed to recruit and oversee a management team capable of operating the Detour Lake mine in a manner that delivers returns to shareholders.” The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg, was signed by John Paulson and Marcelo Kim, a partner at the firm.

Paulson & Co., whose $9 billion in assets includes a 5.4 percent stake in Detour, wants the board to explore all strategic alternatives, including a sale. Those sentiments were echoed by other shareholders, including Franklin Templeton, Mackenzie Investments, Tocqueville Asset Management and VanEck.

“At this point it is incumbent on you to see if other companies are ready to pay a full and fair price for the company,” Paulson and Kim wrote. The firm said it had previously informed the Detour board of interest from would-be buyers.

Detour Investor Relations Director Laurie Gaborit and Interim Chief Executive Officer Michael Kenyon didn’t immediately respond to email and telephone messages seeking comment.

Shares in the company, which jumped as much as 4.5 percent on Friday, slumped 33 percent in the past year, compared with an average 16 percent decline among peers tracked by Bloomberg. Most of the losses came in late April when it lowered production guidance, raised its cost projection and announced it was reassessing a mine plan. The updated plan is scheduled for release June 27, with a conference call the following day.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s on them,” John Hathaway, portfolio manager of the $1 billion Tocqueville Gold Fund, said by telephone. His firm owns a 4.2 percent stake in Detour. “It’s time to open the books to potentially interested parties. And there are many. It’s a world class asset.”

Paulson is going public with the grievances as the firm looks to form a coalition aimed at curbing years of what it calls value destruction in the gold sector by giving investors more say on issues like executive pay, board appointments and deals.

Many gold executives are so focused on job preservation that they neglect shareholders, said Norm MacDonald, an Atlanta-based fund manager at Invesco Ltd., which has almost $1 billion under management, including Detour shares.

“Something has got to give,” MacDonald said by telephone. “The industry has to change and there has to be consolidation.”