BlackRock’s Hambro Says Gold Slump May Lead to Bankruptcies

BlackRock Inc. (BLK)’s Evy Hambro, who manages the $10 billion World Mining Fund, said some gold miners may be forced out of business after the price of the precious metal slumped and as they battle rising costs.

“We need to see these costs taken out of the industry, we need to see the companies stop producing the ounces that don’t make money and focusing on the ones that do,” Hambro said in an interview with Francine Lacqua and Guy Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse” today. “For some it might be too late and bankruptcy might be around the corner.”

With bullion falling into a bear market, the 30-member Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index has tumbled 49 percent this year. Gold for immediate delivery dropped below $1,200 yesterday for the first time since August 2010, as signs of improving U.S. economic growth boosted speculation the Federal Reserve will wind down its asset-purchase program. The metal reached a record $1,921.15 in September 2011.

Hambro said he expects to see “big writedowns” in the industry. “I think it’s going to lead to major writedowns within the sector this year because obviously the gold price assumptions that companies use to value their assets from a carrying point of view in their books are going to be far lower than in the past,” Hambro said.

While the collapse in the gold price hurts miners now, it will lead to management improving how their companies are run as it’s exposed “bad” operating and reinvestment practices, Hambro said.

“Obviously it’s been a horrific journey this year,” Hambro said. “The gold companies are under severe pressure to make the changes that are needed and I think we’ll end up with a better investment sector to look at.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Biesheuvel in London at tbiesheuvel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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