Silver Wheaton’s ‘train wreck : bought deal is getting snubbed

Silver Wheaton acquires silver and gold “streams” from mining companies to help them finance their projects. That has been a very active business during the mining downturn, and Silver Wheaton has kept bankers busy.

Nicky Loh/BloombergSilver Wheaton acquires silver and gold “streams” from mining companies to help them finance their projects. That has been a very active business during the mining downturn, and Silver Wheaton has kept bankers busy.

The stock traded below the offer price all day Tuesday, and sources said a very large portion remains unsold. One source described the entire deal as a “train wreck.”

The bought deal, which was announced Monday night, was priced at US$20.55 a share by lead underwriter Scotiabank. The pricing was very aggressive, as it represented a 3% discount to Silver Wheaton’s closing price that day. Typically, the discount on bought deals is larger, as a reflection of the risks taken on by the underwriters, one of which is that the stock price drops. On this deal, the underwriters are also charging agents’ fees of 3.75%. – or $0.77 a share.

Amid weaker precious metal prices Tuesday, Silver Wheaton shares did fall, by 5.5%, and closed at US$20.02. On heavy volume – trading in New York and Toronto at 11.4 million shares was about 1.5 times normal – the shares hit an intraday  low of US$19.83.

Silver Wheaton is a very liquid stock, so if investors want to build a large position, they can buy it on the open market and bypass the bought deal. Deal insiders are hopeful that metal prices will rise on Wednesday and they will be able to sell more of the offering.

Investment banks lined up to be part of this bought deal, because Vancouver-based Silver Wheaton has been one of their top mining clients in recent years. Indeed there are four lines of underwriters (all with varying degrees of liability), with BMO, CIBC and RBC on the second line, BofA Merrill Lynch and TD on the third line, and Scotiabank signed on for a 25% share.

Silver Wheaton acquires silver and gold “streams” from mining companies to help them finance their projects. That has been a very active business during the mining downturn, and Silver Wheaton has kept bankers busy.

A source said there has been no serious talk so far about trying to cut the price on the offering, or reduce the size. Scotiabank does not typically lead mining offerings this big.

This is the third time in recent months where banks had trouble selling a very large mining stock offering. It shows that investor appetite for these stocks is not endless amid rough market conditions.

In late 2013, Barrick Gold Corp. did a US$3 billion bought deal, which was priced at a 5.4% discount to the market price. And in the middle of last year, Franco-Nevada Corp.’s US$500 million share offering proved to be a tough sell.

The Franco-Nevada bought deal has similarities to the current Silver Wheaton deal. Both firms are in the mining-royalty business, and in both cases, the discount to the market price was very small. It was less than 2% in the Franco transaction.

Silver Wheaton plans to use cash from the bought deal to fund its acquisition of a gold stream from Vale SA’s Salobo mine in Brazil. It is the second gold stream that Silver Wheaton is buying from this mine.

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