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New executives for Hill End Gold

Non-executive director Martin McFarlane has been appointed MD and will lead Yendon’s feasibility and development studies.

He has held numerous senior executive positions concerning exploration and plant operations.

80% Increase In Tonnage  Maiden Measured JORC Estimate

80% Increase In Tonnage Maiden Measured JORC Estimate…

RESOURCEStocks Australian Mines QA: Benjamin Bell

RESOURCEStocks Australian Mines QA: Benjamin Bell…

Evidence Mounts for World Class District

Evidence Mounts for World Class District

RESOURCEStocks QA: Westgold's Peter Cook

RESOURCEStocks QA: Westgold’s Peter Cook

Another non-executive director, David Leavy, has been made executive director of finance and commercial. He worked at Westpac (AU:WBC) for 18 years and was then CFO for a number of mining companies.

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Sanofi to buy U.S. haemophilia group Bioverativ for $11.6 billion

PARIS (Reuters) – French healthcare group Sanofi has agreed to buy U.S. haemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion, in a deal which it said would boost earnings and strengthen its presence in treatments for rare diseases.

The move comes at a time of renewed interest by large drugmakers in smaller biotech firms and predictions by some experts that 2018 will see a substantial pick-up in mergers and acquisitions.

Sanofi has agreed to buy all of the outstanding shares of Bioverativ for $105 per share in cash, marking a premium of 64 percent to Bioverativ’s closing price on January 19.

Bioverativ, a maker of haemophilia drugs, was separated from Biogen Inc early last year.

The agreed transaction marks Sanofi’s successful return to deal-making after its failure to land major takeovers in recent years. It is its biggest acquisition since the 2011 takeover of U.S. biotech company Genzyme for around $20 billion.

Sanofi lost out on buying California-based cancer specialist Medivation to Pfizer in 2016, and also missed acquiring Swiss biotech company Actelion, which was bought by Johnson Johnson last year.

“With Bioverativ, we welcome a leader in the growing haemophilia market,” Sanofi Chief Executive Olivier Brandicourt said.

The market dealing with treatments for haemophilia is an important one that is evolving rapidly as new drugs change the landscape. Further ahead, gene therapy promises to disrupt traditional approaches to tackling the inherited condition.

Sanofi said the sector had around $10 billion in annual sales, dealing with 181,000 people affected worldwide. It added that haemophilia represented the largest market for rare diseases and was set to grow by more than 7 percent per year through to 2022.

Sanofi expects the acquisition to be immediately accretive to its business earnings per share in the full 2018 financial year and up to 5 percent accretive for the following year.

It added it would fund the takeover with a mixture of existing cash resources and a debt issue.

“We have the means to make further takeovers,” added Brandicourt on a conference call.

Sanofi said it expected to achieve a return on its invested capital (ROIC) in excess of the cost of capital within three years. The French group also expects to preserve its strong credit rating.

This month Celgene agreed to pay up to $7 billion to take over Impact Biomedicines and the U.S. company is also said to be circling Juno Therapeutics.

In Europe, Novo Nordisk has offered $3.1 billion for Ablynx and Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical plans to buy TiGenix for $630 million.

The spate of deal-making follows a relatively subdued 2017 for biotech MA.

Lazard advised Sanofi on the deal, while Guggenheim Securities and J.P. Morgan advised Bioverativ.

Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler in London and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Jason Neely

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Wall Street futures, dollar dip after U.S. government shutdown, Asia resilient

TOKYO (Reuters) – Wall Street stock futures and the dollar pulled back slightly on Monday after the U.S. government was forced to shut down amid a dispute between President Donald Trump and Democrats over immigration.

But Asian shares remained resilient overall while U.S. bond yields continue to rise as investors saw limited economic fallout from the standoff in the U.S. capital.

European stock futures are mostly opening slightly higher, with Dax futures up 0.2 percent, and France’s Cac futures up 0.05 percent. Britain’s FTSE futures are down 0.1 percent.

“After all, people know this is just a political show. Neither Republicans nor Democrats can afford to keep dragging their feet for long ahead of mid-term elections this year,” said Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan managed to erase slim losses earlier to eke out gains of 0.1 percent, hitting a record high for six days in a row. Japan’s Nikkei also ended up 0.03 point.

U.S. SP500 mini futures dipped just 0.1 percent, still clinging near a record high hit on Friday.

A U.S. government shutdown will enter its third day on Monday as Senate negotiators failed to reach an agreement late on Sunday to restore federal spending authority and deal with demands from Democrats that young “Dreamers” be protected from deportation.

The Senate set a vote for 12 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Monday on advancing a measure to provide temporary government funding through Feb. 8, end the shutdown and allow hundreds of thousands of federal employees to return to work.

But it was unclear whether there would be enough Democratic votes on Monday to advance a temporary spending bill.

While many see minimal impact on the economy from a short-term government shutdown, analysts say a prolonged stalemate in Washington could dampen investors’ confidence in U.S. assets.

“The markets had not expected this shutdown. Given that U.S. share prices have rallied strongly since the beginning of the year, we have to see if this event is a trigger to change the market trend,” said Takafumi Yamawaki, head of Japan fixed income research at JPMorgan Securities.

Yamawaki noted that during previous government shutdowns – two in 1995 and one in 2013 – U.S. bond yields have tended to slip in the first few weeks after the closure.

But so far U.S. Treasuries yields have risen despite the government shutdown, extending their uptrend since September.

The benchmark 10-year yield rose to as high as 2.672 percent, its highest level in 3-1/2 years. A clear break above its double top marked in December last year and March could signal a further rise in the yield, analysts say.

In the foreign exchange market, the dollar’s index against a basket of major currencies dropped about 0.2 percent from late last week to 90.465, not far from three-year low of 90.104 touched on Wednesday, before edging back to 90.63.

The euro opened the day 0.4 percent higher at $1.2275, but it stopped short of testing Wednesday’s three-year peak of $1.2323 and pared back much of the gains to trade at $1.2225.

The common currency was also helped after Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) voted on Sunday to begin formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, moving Europe’s economic powerhouse closer to a stable government after months of political deadlock.

The safe-haven Swiss franc gained 0.3 percent to 0.9619 franc per dollar. It hit a four-month high of 0.9536 to the dollar on Friday.

The Japanese yen was little changed at 110.83 yen to the dollar, not far from Wednesday’s four-month high of 110.19.

The South African rand was the biggest mover in Asian trade, rising almost 1 percent at one point to 2-1/2-year highs of 12.0825 per dollar.

Leaders of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) met on Saturday to outline the party’s program for the coming year amid reports that its executive planned to force Jacob Zuma to quit as the country’s president.

Moving in the opposite direction, the Turkish lira eased 0.6 percent to 3.8280 after Turkey’s army and rebel allies battled U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria, in a campaign that has opened a new front in Syria’s civil war.

Oil prices ticked up, pushed higher by comments from Saudi Arabia that cooperation between oil producers who are currently withholding supplies in an effort to prop up the market would continue beyond 2018.

Brent crude futures were at $68.75, up 0.2 percent, from their last close. Brent on Jan. 15 hit its highest since December, 2014, at $70.37 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.53 a barrel, up 0.3 percent from their last settlement. WTI marked a December-2014 peak of $64.89 a barrel on Jan. 16.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Sam Holmes

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Exclusive: U.S. sanctions curb Microsoft sales to hundreds of Russian firms

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Two of Microsoft’s official distributors in Russia have imposed restrictions on sales of Microsoft software to more than 200 Russian companies following new U.S. sanctions, according to notifications circulated by the distributors.

While much of the focus around U.S. sanctions has been on ways they are being skirted, the moves by the Russian distributors show how tougher restrictions that came into force on Nov. 28 are starting to bite.

The new measures cut the duration of loans that can be offered to Russian financial firms subject to sanctions to 14 days from 30 days and to 60 days from 90 days for Russian energy companies on a U.S. sanctions list.

Previously, the restrictions had mainly affected Western banks lending to Russian firms but with such short financing periods, swathes of companies supplying goods and services to Russian clients fear they could fall foul of the rules too.

It is routine in Russia for suppliers to wait weeks or even months to get paid after submitting invoices for goods and services.

Some Western firms have been advised by lawyers that the U.S. Treasury Department could, in theory, take the view this constituted financing in violation of the sanctions, according to several people involved in the discussions.

One of the two Microsoft distributors, a Russian company called Merlion, said in its notification to partners that all sanctioned buyers of Microsoft licenses must pay within tight deadlines, or even pay upfront in some cases.

The second distributor, RRC, said in its notification, seen by Reuters, that “serious restrictions are being introduced” on Microsoft orders from firms subject to U.S. sanctions.

Both Merlion and RRC cited rules stemming from the new package of U.S. sanctions – signed into law on Aug. 2 for Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and cyber attacks – as the reason for the additional restrictions.

Neither Merlion nor RRC responded to Reuters questions.

Microsoft said in a statement to Reuters: “Microsoft has a strong commitment to complying with legal requirements and has robust processes around the world to help ensure that our partners are in compliance as well.”

In response to Reuters questions, a spokesman for the U.S. Treasury Department, which oversees the enforcement of sanctions, referred to its published guidance.

The guidance from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) states that U.S. firms can conduct transactions with companies on the sanctions list as long as the payment terms do not exceed the permitted loan duration.

“In the event that a U.S. person believes that it may not receive payment in full by the end of the relevant payment period, the U.S. person should contact OFAC to determine whether a license or other authorization is required,” it said.


The United States can impose a civil penalty on violators of $250,000 or double the amount of the offending transaction if it is greater. If convicted of wilful violation, offenders face a fine up to $1 million, or 20 years in jail, or both.

Microsoft did not respond to Reuters questions about whether it had initiated the restrictions introduced by two of its Russian distributors.

Microsoft lists nine other official distributors of its main software products in Russia in the same category of partner companies as RRC and Merlion. One, Softline, declined to comment on whether it had introduced stricter payment rules. The others did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Reuters reported in October that software produced by Microsoft had been acquired by state organizations and firms in Russia and Crimea, despite sanctions barring U.S.-based companies from doing business with them.

That case, and several similar ones reported by Reuters, highlighted gaps between the sanctions and their enforcement.

The U.S. government operates two lists of firms subject to sanctions. U.S.-based entities are banned from doing almost all forms of business with firms on Washington’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

A second list known as the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) list covers 224 mostly Russian firms and their subsidiaries in the banking, energy and defense sectors which are subject to financial restrictions.

They include major Russian companies such as oil giant Rosneft, natural gas producer Novatek and Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender.

While the lending rules for financial and energy firms have been tightened, restrictions on financing for Russian defense manufacturers were left unchanged at 30 days though the new sanctions toughened the penalties for any violations.


The notification from Microsoft distributor Merlion dated Nov. 29, the day after the new lending rules come into force, said orders would only be fulfilled for financial sector buyers once it had confirmation full payment had been received.

For the defense sector, it said orders would be fulfilled only if partners confirmed payment would be made within 30 days of the software license being activated. For energy sector clients, confirmation of payment within 60 days was required.

“If we do not receive from you documents confirming payment on orders from the defense and energy sectors, the order could be viewed by the vendor as not complying with the processing procedure and rejected,” Merlion’s notification said.

RRC did not spell out the new restrictions in its notification, sent by email last month to its partners.

“In the event that you have buyers from the following sectors of the economy (financial, defense, energy) and they are in the sanctions list, you are requested IN ADVANCE to contact your RRC manager for further instructions.”

“In connection with this, serious restrictions are being introduced on the placing of, and payment for, orders for Microsoft products … placed by these buyers (and also their subsidiaries and affiliated companies),” the notification said.


Besides the tighter lending rules and other new restrictions, a change of wording in the U.S. sanctions package is also sending ripples through the Russian economy.

The previous wording was the U.S. president “may impose” penalties if rules are violated. That has now changed to “shall impose” penalties, unless it is not in the national interest.

Lawyers who advise clients on U.S. sanctions compliance said this meant it was more likely Washington would impose penalties on foreign entities doing prohibited business with a company on the sanctions list.

In response, companies are trying to put as much distance as possible between themselves and Russian entities on the U.S. blacklist, fearing they could end up on it too by association, bankers, lawyers, officials, and business executives said.

Some companies are conducting audits to find out if their partners deal with any sanctioned entities and are, in some cases, halting those relationships, according to a sanctions lawyer and an executive with a large industrial firm.

“Even Chinese companies started to ask,” said a senior source close to the Kremlin and the Russian government, alluding to the fact some Chinese companies have until now continued to do deals even where many Western firms have pulled back.

At the same time, companies that are on the sanctions list, or believe they may be added, are looking for intermediary firms that would allow their partners to keep working with them, albeit at arm’s length.

A person who works closely with a billionaire Russian oligarch said he assessed the risk the oligarch’s business would be put under U.S. sanctions was only 10 percent. Even so, he said, the business was taking precautions so it can keep operating if Washington does blacklist it.

“We are establishing non-affiliated business units. Or deal with large local partners,” said the source, who declined to be identified to avoid attracting attention to his boss’s business.

A Russian finance ministry source said he expected an uptick in the number of shell companies being set up as a mechanism to bypass the expanded sanctions.

Two executives from two top-20 Russian banks said they viewed the fact their clients included Rosneft as a risk. One said many of the bank’s clients had started to ask whether the Rosneft ties exposed the lender to sanctions risk.

Additional reporting by Salvador Rodriguez in San Francisco, Joel Schectman in Washington, and Gleb Stolyarov, Katya Golubkova, Darya Korsunskaya, Olga Sichkar, Elena Fabrichnaya and Polina Nikolskaya; editing by David Clarke

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Investors’ gaze turns to North America

In Canada, junior mining executives told Mining Journal they were feeling more confident than a year ago in the lead-up to the Vancouver gathering.

The TSX mining and metals sector closed up more than 1% on Friday, and Royal Nickel Corp (CN:RNC) was one of the bigger movers with a gain of just over 16% taking it to a 10-month high.

The diversified miner last week announced it had increased gold production at its Beta Hunt mine in Western Australia by 21% in the fourth quarter and 33% for 2017; and also dusted off plans for its shovel-ready Dumont nickel-cobalt project in Quebec, which it says contains the world’s largest undeveloped reserves of both cobalt and nickel.

Gold was trading at US$1,331 an ounce on the spot market earlier as the US government shutdown enters its third day ahead of a key vote on a short-term funding bill set for noon in Washington.

RESOURCEStocks Australian Mines QA: Benjamin Bell

RESOURCEStocks Australian Mines QA: Benjamin Bell…

Evidence Mounts for World Class District

Evidence Mounts for World Class District

RESOURCEStocks QA: Westgold's Peter Cook

RESOURCEStocks QA: Westgold’s Peter Cook

80% Increase In Tonnage  Maiden Measured JORC Estimate

80% Increase In Tonnage Maiden Measured JORC Estimate…

US president Donald Trump is then scheduled to join global leaders at the World Economic Forum that starts tomorrow in Davos, Switzerland.

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Equinox plans rapid growth to mid-tier producer

With two advanced-stage gold projects and combined resources of more than 8 million ounces, the company expects to achieve its first gold pour at the end of 2018 at its Aurizona project in Brazil that is expected to produce 136,000 ounces a year. Meanwhile, it aims to complete a pre-feasibility study at its Castle Mountain project in California, USA during the first semester.

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Icahn, Deason to jointly push Xerox to explore selling itself, other options: WSJ

(Reuters) – Investor Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason, the biggest- and third-largest shareholders of Xerox Corp, jointly plan to push the printer and photocopier maker to explore options, including a sale of the firm, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Icahn and Deason, who together own 15.7 percent of the photocopier pioneer, have earlier separately called on the company to break off or renegotiate a joint venture with Fujifilm Holdings Corp, saying it was unfavorable to Xerox. Icahn has also called for Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson to be replaced.

The two shareholders have now formed an alliance and plan to ask Xerox to explore options, including selling itself, breaking off its long-running joint venture with Fujifilm, and immediately firing Jacobson, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Journal had previously reported that Fujifilm and Xerox were discussing deals, including a change of control of Xerox, though not a full sale.

In a statement, Xerox said: “The Xerox Board of Directors and management are confident with the strategic direction in which the Company is heading and we will continue to take action to achieve our common goal of creating value for all Xerox shareholders.”

Deason has been asking the company to make public the terms of its deal with Fujifilm, which he called “one-sided”. Xerox has described Deason’s criticism as “false and misleading”.

The five-decade-old joint venture, 75 percent owned by Fujifilm and 25 percent by Xerox, is a pillar of Fujifilm’s business, accounting for nearly half the group’s overall operating profit. It has limited prospects for future growth, however, because of declining demand for office printing.

The reported operating profit of the joint venture, called Fuji Xerox, was about $750 million on sales of $10 billion in the year ended last March.

Fujifilm declined to comment on the Journal report.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Makiko Yamazaki in TOKYO; Editing by Peter Cooney and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Wal-Mart shops Brazil unit stake to Advent, other funds: sources

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc is in talks with buyout firm Advent International Corp and other funds to sell a major stake in its Brazilian operations, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Sunday.

Wal-Mart is being advised by Goldman Sachs Co, according to one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. Other private equity firms that are looking into the investment in the Brazilian unit are GP Investments Ltd and Acon Investments LLC, the source added.

Wal-Mart officials in Brazil declined to comment. Advent and GP declined to comment. Goldman and Acon did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Wal-Mart’s overseas business is not the growth driver it once was as it has continued to grapple with an economic slowdown in Brazil and competition from discount retailers in the UK.

In 2016, Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon flagged to investors that he was planning to review its global operations. His comments had sparked speculation that Wal-Mart would look to restructure or even pull out of markets where it has struggled. Brazil was among the countries most often cited by analysts as a potential target.

During the same year, Wal-Mart shuttered at least 10 percent of its stores in Brazil and shed non-core businesses across Latin America. It also sold its e-commerce business in China to Chinese e-commerce company and picked up a stake in instead of trying to crack the market on its own.

A partial exit by Wal-Mart from Brazil comes as Chief Operating Officer Judith McKenna takes over the international unit of the world’s biggest retailer. The move would give a new partner the chance to turn around a sprawling operation that has struggled to turn a profit.

Wal-Mart entered Brazil in 1995 and had grown into the country’s third-largest retailer following two major acquisitions in 2004 and 2005 and a period of rapid store expansion that came to a halt in 2013.

It currently operates 471 stores in Brazil, according to the company’s local website. The retailer’s Brazilian unit reported revenues of almost 30 billion reais ($9.4 billion) in 2016.

Wal-Mart has posted operating losses in Brazil for seven years in a row after an aggressive, decade-long expansion left it with poor locations, inefficient operations, labor troubles and uncompetitive prices, Reuters reported early in 2016.(

One of the people with knowledge of the deal said Wal-Mart’s operations in Brazil had not improved over the last two years, which coincided with the country’s harshest recession in decades.

Wal-Mart began sounding out possible investors in the unit several months ago but got no interest from rival retailers, which led the company to seek out buyout firms, the source said.

The retailer intends to keep a stake in the Brazilian unit to be able to recoup part of its losses in the country later if an economic recovery and restructured operations boost results, according to the source.

Retail sales in Brazil are starting to recover from the recession. Christmas sales were 5.6 percent higher than a year ago, according to credit data supplier Serasa Experian.

Earlier on Sunday, newspaper O Globo said private equity Advent was in talks to acquire 50 percent of the Wal-Mart unit. The paper did not say how it got the information or any details on the state of the talks.

Additional reporting by Marcelo Teixeira and Nandita Bose in New York; Editing by Brad Haynes, Paul Simao and Himani Sarkar

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Coro reaches Marimaca milestones

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