The Division of Corporation Finance recently granted no-action relief to Alamos Gold, Inc., a Canadian corporation, in connection with its proposed acquisition of Aurizon Mines Ltd., another Canadian corporation.  The proposed acquisition is structured as a tender offer with consideration consisting of a mix of stock and cash subject to proration that would limit each form of consideration to a specified maximum aggregate amount in both the initial and any subsequent offering period.  The Division granted an exemption from Rule 14d-10(a)(2) under the Exchange Act, which provides that no bidder shall make a tender offer unless the consideration offered and paid to any security holder for its securities tendered is the highest consideration paid to any other security holder for its securities tendered.  In addition, relief was granted from Rules 14d-11(b) and 14d-11(f) under the Exchange Act, which provide that a bidder may offer a mix of consideration in a subsequent offering period provided there is no ceiling on any form of consideration offered, and the same form and amount of consideration is offered in both the initial and subsequent offering periods.

The Staff’s position in Alamos Gold is consistent with the no-action relief granted in prior Canadian cross-border transactions involving a mix of stock and cash consideration subject to aggregate maximums, including Barrick Gold Corporation (avail. January 19, 2006) and Teck Cominco Limited (avail. June 21, 2006).

This relief comes at a time when there is a noticeable increase in cross-border M&A activity and shareholder activism in Canada.  In particular, Coeur d’Alene Mines’ recent announcement of its CAD$350 million acquisition of Orko Silver Corp. and First Quantum Minerals’ CAD$5.1 billion acquisition of Inmet Mining Corp.  Thus, when structuring acquisition transactions in Canada, and elsewhere, bidders should consider the Division’s increasingly flexible approach to allowing the offer of stock and cash alternatives in tender offers.

A copy of the Alamos Gold no-action letter can be found here.