Goldsmith's Newmont stake falls below 5%

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK - Sir James Goldsmith sold off a third big tranche of his holdings in Newmont Mining yesterday, bringing his share to below 5 per cent after holding almost half the company only three months ago, writes Larry Black.

General Oriental Investments, Sir James's holding company, and his partner Jacob Rothschild will sell 9.65 million Newmont shares in a secondary public offering, a stake worth roughly dollars 525m ( pounds 349m) at yesterday's share price.

Sir James began divesting his Newmont holding in late April, when the sale of a 10 per cent stake to the speculator George Soros for about dollars 300m prompted a big run-up in gold prices. In May, after the company's shares had risen sharply, he sold a smaller part of his stake for another dollars 300m, putting strong downward pressure on the stock.

Yesterday's sell-off, in contrast, went almost unnoticed, resulting in a decline of only 75 cents to dollars 52.25 in relatively light trading. The sale will bring the group's stake in Newmont down from 17.4 to 4.9 per cent.

Sir James acquired a 49 per cent stake in Newmont in 1990 as part of a pounds 1.3bn swap with Hanson Industries for his US lumber company Cavenham Forest Products. Hanson had in turn acquired the stake in the US gold producer when it bought Consolidated Gold Fields in 1989.

Gold industry analysts agreed that the price was a good one. 'It's hard to fault the guy for getting out now,' said John Phizackerley, an analyst with Shearson Lehman Brothers.

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