March 6, 2013 / 11:12 PM / in 5 years

Hecla CEO says confident of Aurizon deal going through

* Don’t think Alamos can block deal: CEO

* Hecla not planning to raise offer

By Garima Goel and Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay

March 6 (Reuters) - U.S. silver miner Hecla Mining Co said it was confident that its deal with Aurizon Mines Ltd would go through, a day after rival bidder Alamos Gold Inc said it was close to blocking Hecla’s bid.

Hecla and Alamos, Aurizon’s largest shareholder, are slugging it out for control of the Casa Berardi mine in Quebec. Aurizon’s Casa Berardi mine has been on Hecla’s radar since 2006.

“We are very confident because we have the highest priced offer,” Hecla Chief Executive Phillips Baker told Reuters.

Hecla, which is looking to ramp up its gold production, said the only way Alamos could block its deal was if more than one-third of the shareholders accepted Alamos’s inferior bid.

“I just don’t think that is going to happen,” Baker said.

Aurizon in January rejected an unsolicited takeover offer of C$4.65 per share from Alamos, which has extended its tender offer deadline to March 19.

Hecla offered to acquire Aurizon for C$4.75 per share.

Alamos Gold Chief Executive John McCluskey told Reuters on Tuesday that it had the support of other “large shareholders” and had 29.5 percent Aurizon shares as on Tuesday afternoon.

“At the end of the day, them blocking the bid or blocking the deal from Hecla suggests that they are forcing some shareholders of Aurizon to take on a lower price,” Hecla’s CEO said.

Hecla, the second-largest U.S. silver miner by output, has been producing gold for more than 30 years. It operates two silver mines -- Greens Creek mine in Alaska and Lucky Friday mine in Idaho -- and has exploration and pre-development properties in the United States and Mexico.

Baker added that Hecla was not planning to raise its offer.

“We have entered into an agreement with Aurizon, it has been negotiated with the board. We think it is a fair and full offer and it’s what we are willing to pay.”

Baker said Hecla would use more cash for buying the assets rather than equity, making it a more secure bid for Aurizon shareholders.

Aurizon shares, which have gained 26 percent since the Alamos offer in January, closed at C$4.28 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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