Metals investor Kaplan raises $200 million for acquisition fund

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prominent metals investor Thomas Kaplan raised $200 million, more than expected, from investors eager to join him in making acquisitions in an industry starved for cash.

Kaplan’s Electrum Group LLC raised the money in Electrum Special Acquisition Corp, according to a prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

Electrum had expected to raise $150 million, it said in the prospectus. The “blank check company” expects to use the money to buy a company or assets with a focus on gold and other precious metals.

Details about the money raised were revealed on Thursday.

Kaplan, an Oxford-educated historian turned metals expert with a long track record of success, is betting that he and his team can spot an unloved company to buy and help it flourish again as demand in the sector improves.

“We are building up a war chest, given what we think is a unique buying opportunity in the metals and mining industry,” said Electrum Chief Executive Officer Eric Vincent. He would not describe what the target might be.

The special purpose acquisition company has two years to deploy the money.

While new cash has been flowing into the energy sector in the wake of the oil price drop, there has been less interest in metals.

“There has been an imbalance between the amount of capital raised and the amount of capital needed,” Vincent told Reuters.

So far Electrum funded many investments with family money.

With the price of gold off almost 40 from its 2011 peak and copper down almost 20 percent since July, institutional investors have avoided the mining sector.

Base metals prices have been hit by worries about a downturn in demand from China, the world’s top consumer, while gold has lost some appeal as the U.S. Federal Reserve prepares to hike rates.

Kaplan previously made big bets on NovaGold Resources Inc and Gabriel Resources, earning money as the price of gold climbed some years ago but suffering when it later dropped.

In 2007, Kaplan sold Leor Exploration & Production LLC, owner of natural-gas wells in Texas, for about $2.6 billion.

Last year Electrum started Electrum Strategic Opportunities, a private equity fund whose clients include the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan.

Additional reporting by Josephine Mason in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn