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Canadian miners Equinox Gold, LeaGold Mining to merge

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Equinox Gold Corp. and LeaGold Mining Corp. entered into a definitive agreement to merge and form a gold producer operating entirely in the Americas.

Under the proposal, LeaGold shareholders will receive 0.331 of an Equinox Gold share for each share held, implying a C$2.70 value per LeaGold share. Closing is expected in the first quarter of 2020.

Existing Equinox Gold and LeaGold shareholders will own 55% and 45%, respectively, of the combined entity, which will continue as Equinox Gold, according to a Dec. 16 news release.

The merged company will own six operating mines, including Equinox Gold's Mesquite gold mine in California and the Aurizona gold mine in Brazil as well as LeaGold's Los Filos gold mining complex in Mexico. Its gold production is estimated to be 700,000 ounces in 2020, increasing to 1 million ounces in 2021 and beyond.

Concurrent with the transaction, Equinox Gold secured a US$670 million financing package headlined by a four-year, US$400 million revolving credit facility and a five-year, US$100 million term loan.

A syndicate of banks comprising The Bank of Nova Scotia, Société Générale, Bank of Montreal and ING Capital LLC provided underwritten commitments for the facility and the loan. Proceeds will be used to refinance existing debt and credit facilities of both Equinox Gold and LeaGold.

The financing package also comprises a five-year, US$130 million convertible debenture issued to Mubadala Investment Co. at US$7.80 per share and a US$40 million share subscription by Equinox Gold Chairman Ross Beaty at C$8.15 per share.

The combined company's board, led by Beaty as chairman, will comprise eight members, with four each from Equinox Gold and LeaGold. The management team will be led by Neil Woodyer as CEO, Attie Roux as COO and Peter Hardie as CFO.

The boards of Equinox Gold and LeaGold unanimously approved the proposed deal. Shareholders owning 21% of Equinox Gold and 42% of LeaGold also entered into voting support agreements in favor of the transaction.