November 25, 2019 / 10:24 AM / in 7 months

UPDATE 1-Global miner BHP to become top shareholder in Ecuador-focused SolGold

(Adds details, share movement and SolGold CEO comment)

Nov 25 (Reuters) - BHP Group will pay 17.1 million pounds ($21.9 million) to become the biggest shareholder in SolGold Plc, the majority owner of the Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador.

BHP, the world’s biggest miner, said it would raise its stake in the Brisbane-based miner to 14.7% from 11.1% by purchasing 77 million new shares in SolGold for 22.15 pence each, a 13.1% premium to SolGold’s last close of 19.58 pence.

SolGold said this would make BHP the largest shareholder by a small margin.

Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd was, until now, SolGold’s largest shareholder, Refinitiv data showed.

Shares of the SolGold jumped 15.9% to 22.70 pence after Bloomberg earlier reported that BHP was going to increase its stake in the London and Toronto-listed copper miner.

BHP will also have options to buy more than 19.25 million SolGold shares, exercisable until Nov. 25, 2024 at a price of 37 pence per share, the global miner said.

“SolGold’s view is that the agreement endorses its view of SolGold’s commanding Ecuadorean copper and gold exploration footprint, and in particular the robust Alpala deposit,” SolGold Chief Executive Nicholas Mather said in a statement. ($1 = 0.7794 pounds) (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey and Edmund Blair)

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