Endeavor 'not on Tinder' for acquisitions after dropping Centamin

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - West Africa-focused gold miner Endeavor Mining is not looking for other potential acquisitions after its failed offer for Centamin, CEO Sebastien de Montessus said on Wednesday.

“Like many first dates, if it doesn’t go well at the end of the first date, then you move on,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

“We came to a conclusion on both sides that we were not understanding each other.”

Endeavor abandoned its 1.5 billion pound ($1.9 billion) pursuit of Centamin in January, citing a lack of information on the company, while Centamin said the offer was too low.

De Montessus said talks with Centamin had gone completely cold and the process was finished. Asked whether he saw other potential targets, he said Endeavor would focus on de-leveraging this year instead.

“Despite the fact there might be a lot of mines on Tinder, we don’t have to go and play on Tinder,” he said, referring to the dating app.

“We’d like to raise our babies,” he said, referring to the company’s existing projects. Endeavor has two gold mines in Burkina Faso and two in Cote d’Ivoire, and an exploration project in Mali.

The gold sector has been consolidating fast. Last year was a bumper year for M&A with $35.1 billion worth of deals, double the 2018 total, Refinitiv data shows.

Surging gold prices have boosted the mining sector in general. De Montessus said if gold continued to rise in 2020 the company could deleverage over the next 12 months. Higher gold prices boost gold miners’ earnings giving them more scope to repay debts.

Endeavour’s goal is to reach a ratio of 1x net debt to EBITDA by year-end.

Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Jane Merriman