Canadian miner Barrick Gold said Monday it had struck a deal to buy Equinox Minerals, topping a rival bid from China's Minmetals Resources.
Barrick, the world's biggest gold miner, said it was offering CAN$7.3 billion ($7.7 billion) in cash for the Australian-Canadian copper miner.
Barrick Gold Corporation "has entered into a support agreement with Equinox Minerals Limited for Barrick to acquire, through an all-cash offer, all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Equinox... by way of a friendly takeover offer," the companies said in a statement.
"The offer is for CAN$8.15 per Equinox share in cash, or a total of approximately $7.3 billion" and represents a 16 per cent premium over the per-share price offer for Equinox proposed by Minmentals Resources on April 3, Barrick said.
"The acquisition of Equinox would add a high-quality, long-life asset to our portfolio and is consistent with our strategy of increasing gold and copper reserves through exploration and acquisitions," Barrick chief executive Aaron Regent said in the statement.
Regent said the transaction was expected to immediately add to the Toronto-based company's cash flow and earnings on a per-share basis.
"It does not dilute our shareholders' gold exposure per share, and it enhances copper exposure and leverage per share in a strong copper price environment," he added.
The Equinox board of directors has "unanimously approved entering into the support agreement" and recommends that Equinox shareholders accept the offer, the statement said.
"We believe this offer is superior to the public proposal made by Minmetals in terms of certainty and value," said Craig Williams, CEO of Equinox.
Equinox Minerals on April 8 called the takeover bid by China's Minmetals Resources "opportunistic" and "lowball."
Minmetals said it would offer US$6.5 billion for Equinox in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of an Australian resources firm.
The offer by the Hong Kong unit of China's largest metals trader would see Minmetals pay CAN$7 per share for a company listed in both Canada and Australia, meaning regulators in both countries need to approve the deal.
Minmetals currently owns 4.2 per cent of Equinox.