It wasn't pretty, but somehow Banro Corp. got it done.
Desperately needing $100-million (U.S.) to develop its projects, the junior gold miner launched a financing in late March. From the get-go the deal was a tough sell.
Not only were Banro's projects located in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, the price of gold had already started to tumble and junior miners weren't having much luck financing their projects. Just prior to Banro announcing the deal, Romarco Minerals had to withdraw its own offering.
But Banro plowed ahead. Ultimately, they got the money. It just required some flexibility. And some luck.
Banro initially sought to raise between $20-million and $40-million by issuing common shares, and between $30-million and $50-million by issuing preferred shares whose dividends are linked to the gold price. The remainder would come from a private deal with BlackRock World Mining Trust, who pledged to buy $30-million of the prefs, provided the total deal size was at least $100-million.
The final split looks much different. Banro issued $68-million in common shares and just $3-million in preferred shares to public investors. (BlackRock kept its $30-million in prefs.)
Banro's investor relations specialist Naomi Nemeth said the company simply had to react to investors' preferences. "It's what the market wanted," she said. "With all the volatility in the market, the preferred shares were just too much of an outlier."
Keep in mind that Banro also needed to meet the minimum deal size to keep BlackRock interested, so it came down to common shares or bust.
Then came the luck. Banro priced the offering early in the morning on Friday April 12. Over the next two days the gold price plummeted 14 per cent. Not exactly confidence-instilling for investors who just ponied up some cash.
However, Ms. Nemeth said none of the investors asked to back out. "There was no suggestion we should re-price it either," she said.
Still, it must have been nerve-racking. The common portion of the deal was sold at $1.35 per share. Last week the stock hit a low of $1.05.
At least investors can breathe a bit easier now. On Thursday morning they're still underwater on their purchases, but the shares are at least back to $1.28 each.
GMP Securities acted as lead agent for the offering.
(Tim Kiladze is a Globe and Mail Reporter.)
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