Centerra “Close” to
Kyrgyz Resolution

Issue 183, June 2017

Continued from Page 1 ➤

...production, was reeling under an hefty debt-load of $800m, paying $90m in interest each year.

Bankers lined-up to take credit for the complex deal, which paid-off Thompson Creek's bondholders and restructured a stream owned by Denver-based Royal Gold, whilst expanding Centerra beyond Kyrgyzstan. But Perry says the agreement was largely brokered in meetings with Royal Gold's chief executive Tony Jensen and Thompson Creek's boss Jacques Perron, a key figure in Canada's mining industry, who has now joined Centerra's board. Everyone had “a vested interest” in seeing the situation resolved, Perry says.

The deal has reframed Centerra's dialogue with Kyrgyzstan. The company didn't notify the government of the deal until it was announced, “but we worked very hard to persuade them that it was beneficial. They now realise when they look at their investment that it's no longer just Kyrgyzstan.” Centerra is also pushing forward assets and joint-ventures in Turkey, Mongolia and Mexico. “We've done a very powerful pivot here. It changes the dynamic.”

For the first time for several years, Kyrgyzstan has issued Centerra's operating permits for the full year ahead, rather than rolling through quarter-by-quarter. The government, which holds 28 per cent of Centerra's stock, also changed tack by voting for all of the company's directors at its AGM in May. “We continue to believe the issues in Kyrgyzstan will eventually be resolved,” says broker Canaccord Genuity.

So how did a surfer from Perth end up running a gold company in Toronto with operations in British Columbia and Kyrgyzstan? Perry started out at gold giant Newmont and climbed the career ladder by saying yes to every opportunity he was offered, he explains. By his late twenties, he was sitting in Barrick Gold's Moscow office, working on a spin-off of its Russian mines. The new company offered him the post of CFO. “Yes,” Perry said.

“I was very lucky, right? I was in the right place at the right time and I just said yes to everything.” Since then, his career has been a seamless succession of promotions and friendly deals, culminating in the sale of AuRico Gold, where he was CEO, for $1.5bn in 2015.

If Perry's laid-back, can-do attitude rubs off on Centerra, it would be his biggest turnaround to date. The government at least seems amenable. “They've said 'Scott, this is your opportunity.' We're all looking to turn a new page.”

“We’ve done a very powerful pivot here.”

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