Newcrest CEO says primed for Americas push with Toronto listing

[MELBOURNE] Newcrest Mining Ltd, Australia's largest gold producer, will be better positioned to push ahead with growth in the Americas after winning approval for a new listing in Toronto, according to its top executive.

The producer won conditional clearance to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange from next week, and is returning to the bourse amid renewed investor appetite for gold equities and to reflect the company's emphasis on growth in the region, Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Biswas said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Melbourne-based Newcrest has spent about US$1.3 billion since last year to acquire the Red Chris mine in Canada and to increase its exposure to the Lundin Gold Inc's Fruta del Norte operation in Ecuador. It's also focused on exploration in the US, Mexico and Chile.

"This cements that and obviously puts some more emphasis on it," MrBiswas said. "It increases our optionality when we want to do things." Newcrest, which raised about A$1.2 billion (S$1.17 billion) in share sales this year, has had renewed interest from North American investors in recent months as gold prices surged to a record. The company previously removed a Toronto listing in September 2013 after trading in Canada for about 18 months.

"There's a heightened interest in gold, particularly from generalist funds, and you're starting to see some of that money coming into the market," MrBiswas said. "I see no reason for that not to continue." Mr Biswas, who took up his post in July 2014, has been named among potential contenders to be appointed as CEO of Rio Tinto Group, which is seeking a new leader. He previously ran Rio's Pacific Aluminium unit.

In response to the speculation, Mr Biswas said that having worked to improve reliability and performance at Newcrest's key operations, he now wants to helm the miner's growth drive. "That's a very rare thing," he said. "It would be really cool for me to be able to execute that, and that's my focus."

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