(Africa Mining Intelligence - June 20, 2017) Indian-Canadian tycoon Stan Bharti is preparing an offensive to transform Canadian junior African Gold Group Inc (AGG) into a major player on the West African gold scene. Until now, AGG had only explored gold at its Kobada project in Mali. Bharti’s recent move has been to quietly set up a small VIP mining consortium, via his Toronto-based private merchant bank Forbes & Manhattan (F&M).
Bharti and his golden boys. In late April, the billionaire picked up 40% of AGG’s capital for $7 million and is preparing to finalise his acquisition of the Madougou gold project in northwest Burkina Faso before July. To finance the project, which had been developed by Ampella Mining in the past, Bharti discreetly incorporated the obscurely named 2516232 Ontario Inc in Canada. This structure, which will inject $3 million into the Burkinabe project, has more than a dozen shareholders, all with a background in mining. They include, Greek billionaire Adonis Pouroulis, founder of Petra Diamonds and developer of Guinean bauxite project Bel Air owned by Alufer Mining (AMI 385), as well as Ghanaian Sam Jonah, former CEO of AngloGold Ashanti. Jonah sits at the head of investment firm Jonah Capital and is well versed in lucrative financial operations. In the 2000s, he invested in Moto Goldmines, which was sold to Randgold Resources and AngloGold in 2009. He also placed a stake in mining junior UraMin, which was sold to Areva in 2007 for $2.5 billion ( AMI 321). 2516232 Ontario Inc’s is also steered by members of Bharti’s inner circle: his son Julian Bharti, CEO of mining investment fund Delano Capital, and Peter McCague, legal counsel of F&M.
Before Bharti popped onto the scene, billionaire Georges Cohen was AGG’s largest shareholder and has stayed on as a member of the board. The French national was the former CEO of IT services group Capgemini and currently chairs Robex Gold, a Canadian concern that operates Malian gold mine Nampala. Cohen still has a 12% stake in AGG ( AMI 392).
Conquering the West. Bharti’s plans for AGG stretch beyond the borders of Mali and Burkina Faso. He has placed sector veteran Brett Richards behind the wheel to help steer the company’s expansion into West Africa. Between 2012 and 2015, Richards was CEO of Octea, the diamond affiliate of Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) active in Sierra Leone. Along with AGG shareholders, Brett Richards will assess opportunities for investing productive gold mines in the region. These new acquisitions would give AGG the revenue it needs to develop its exploration of Kobada and Madougou.
Among assets currently marketed, AGG has already pinpointed Ivorian Bonikro mine exploited by Australia’s Newcrest Mining, Inata in Burkina Faso, developed by British firm Avocet Mining, as well as Nzema (Ghana) and Tabakoto (Mali) owned by Endeavour Mining.
Stan Bharti’s realm. Bharti trained as a mining engineer in Moscow. Though he has a large international mining portfolio, he likes to fly under the radar. There are however a network of celebrities that sit on the advisory council of his fund F&M, including American TV personality Larry King and Canada’s former minister of international trade, Pierre Pettigrew. Like his brother Julian, Bharti’s other son, Rene Bharti, has been given a lead role at F&M. Rene was on the board of Allana Potash Corp from 2010 to 2012. Allana manages a potash project in Ethiopia. Rene Bharti also founded ARHT Media, a specialist in human holograms, alongside famous Canadian-American crooner Paul Anka.