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Streetwise Ivanhoe taps veteran BMO banker Egizio Bianchini for senior position

File photo of an Ivanhoe Mines operation.

Ivanhoe Mines

Veteran BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. banker Egizio Bianchini is joining the senior management team and board of directors of international mining company Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.

Mr. Bianchini's appointment as vice-chairman of Vancouver-based Ivanhoe comes a day after The Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Bianchini was leaving BMO to work for Robert Friedland, who is founder and executive chairman of Ivanhoe.

Mr. Bianchini spent 29 years at BMO, starting as an equity analyst in 1989. Mr. Bianchini moved into investment banking in 2001 and was instrumental in growing BMO's mining practice into one of the most successful in the world. Alongside Jason Neal, with whom he shared the title of co-head of the global metals and mining group, his team advised on tens of billions of mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Bianchini possesses deep relationships with industry behemoths such as Newmont Mining and Kinross Gold. He also has a rich history with Ivanhoe.

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"Ivanhoe Mines has worked with Egizio for more than 20 years as the company has evolved into a significant international mining enterprise," Mr. Friedland said in a release on Wednesday.

"Ivanhoe directors agree that Egizio is the person to help us escalate the momentum we have generated with our world-scale discoveries and mine development projects in Africa."

On Wednesday, Ivanhoe spokesperson Bob Williamson told The Globe he was unaware of any such appointment.

Mr. Bianchini is also known for being one of a number of analysts who were bullish on Bre-X Minerals, a Canadian mineral exploration company that collapsed after its supposed big gold discovery in Indonesia turned out to be a fraud.

Mr. Bianchini comes to Ivanhoe at a critical juncture for the firm. Over the past week, Ivanhoe's shares have lost about 30 per cent after the Democratic Republic of the Congo government announced plans to slap a punitive new tax system on mining companies that operate in the country. Ivanhoe operates the massive Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the country, which Mr. Friedland has predicted will one day be the world's largest copper mine. In a speech earlier this week in Africa, Mr. Friedland made a plea to investors not to "freak out" over the sudden change in Congo's tax environment.

Mr. Bianchini officially joins Ivanhoe on March 12.

With a file from Geoffrey York

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