(Adds fund manager quote, details on holdings, background on
opposition to deal)
By Susan Taylor
TORONTO Nov 23 Kirkland Lake Gold Inc's
largest shareholder, Van Eck Associates, on Wednesday
reaffirmed its support for the Canadian miner's proposed
takeover of Newmarket Gold Inc as a deadline passed for
shareholder proxy votes to be cast.
Toronto-based Kirkland Lake has offered to buy Newmarket,
which operates mines and projects in Australia, in an all-stock
transaction valued at about C$1 billion ($742 million).
"We're supportive of the merger," Van Eck fund manager
Joseph Foster told Reuters, while declining to specify how the
fund voted. "It's just creating a very attractive gold vehicle
Van Eck Associates owned 19.83 million shares in Kirkland
Lake, a 16.88 percent stake, as of Sept. 30, according to the
latest Thomson Reuters data. It also held 23.07 million shares
in Newmarket, or a 12.96 percent stake, as of Oct. 26, the data
Kirkland Lake and Newmarket shareholders had a midmorning
deadline on Wednesday to vote their proxies on the transaction,
with results expected on Friday morning.m
Some shareholders and analysts have publicly stated the
Newmarket takeover offers few cost-cutting or revenue-generating
opportunities, given that the miners' assets are in different
And some investors argued that Kirkland Lake too hastily
rejected three joint offers by Gold Fields Ltd and
Silver Standard Resources to acquire Kirkland Lake.
Kirkland Lake confirmed on Nov. 11 a Reuters report that
Gold Fields and Silver Standard had made three joint bids for
the midsize gold miner and recently sweetened their offer to
about C$1.4 billion. The bidders' names and deal value were not
Kirkland said its legal advisers and financial advisers
concluded the proposals were "not financially superior" to its
plan to acquire Newmarket.
Investor advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis have recommended
to shareholders of Kirkland Lake and Newmarket that they vote
for the deal.
($1 = 1.3477 Canadian dollars)
(Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vanccouver,; Editing
by Lisa Von Ahn and Jonathan Oatis)