Kari J. MacKay, Partner, Goodmans LLP

Goodmans’ financing work spans Senegal, Burkina Faso, and the DRC.

Can you please provide some background information into Goodmans LLP?

Kari J. MacKay (KJM): David Bertram Goodman, a prominent barrister, founded Goodmans LLP in 1917. His son, Edwin A. (Eddie) Goodman, a lawyer and political figure, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a founding partner of the firm, after being called to the bar in 1947.

Today, Goodmans is recognized internationally as one of Canada’s preeminent business law firms, providing market-leading expertise across a variety of specialist business areas, including litigation, restructuring, administrative, real estate, tax and regulatory matters, as well as corporate and transaction finance.

Goodmans is one of the original ‘seven sisters’, a group of leading Canadian law firms with offices in Toronto. Relative to the other seven sisters, Goodmans is smaller in size with 200 lawyers, who service a broad range of Canadian and foreign clients. Perhaps due to its more intimate size therefore, Goodmans continues to embrace the culture that its founders created – a reliable and friendly, yet very professional law firm.

What percentage of Goodmans’ business is attributed to the mining sector, and how has this business evolved over the years?

KJM: Over the past 25 years, Goodmans has been recognized as a ‘go-to’ firm for corporate and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) business transactions. The firm did not specifically intend to create a mining and natural resources practice group, but this organically evolved from the M&A work Goodmans performed in Canada for mining issuers on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). As a result, Goodmans now has an experienced and accomplished practice that advises a diverse range of domestic and international players in the mining, oil and gas, forestry and other natural resource sectors.

Goodmans’ volume of corporate M&A and finance for mining is increasing year on year. Today, the firm’s mining and natural resources practice group is an active part of Goodmans’ annual business. The African continent accounts for one-third of this business sector, with South America representing one-third, and the other third comprised of all other regions and countries around the globe.

What genre of clientele represents the largest portion of the firm’s portfolio?

KJM: Known across Canada and internationally for excellence and market leadership, Goodmans represents clients at every stage of corporate and project development, representing both private and public companies.

Within Goodmans’ mining and natural resources practice group, it has acted on significant transactions for senior producers including Newmont Mining, HudBay Minerals and Uranium One, as well as key gold royalty and streaming companies such as Franco-Nevada. The firm’s portfolio also includes a number of smaller exploration stage issuers, which contribute quite significantly to the practice’s overall yearly revenue.

With Goodmans representing one of the smaller firms among the seven sisters, how does the firm rank against its peers?

KJM: Every law firm has its own distinctive culture. Goodmans’ culture is that of entrepreneurial lawyers focused on the business of their clients and dedicated to them. Goodmans prides itself on its ability to cultivate long-term personal business relationships with its clients, viewing them as business partners.

Which service within Goodmans’ mining and natural resources practice group receives the most demand from Africa’s mining industry?

KJM: Within the firm’s mining and natural resources practice group, its seasoned staff is proficient across M&A, initial public offerings, negotiating mineral prospecting and exploration agreements, private equity, debt financing, amongst many other specialist areas. However, Goodmans’ main involvement in Africa’s mining industry is financing solutions. This is where the firm’s innovative, creative, and diversified financing solutions can really add value for its clients.

Private equity funds are new to stream financings, which are important to issuers so that they can keep debt off the balance sheet, thus moving forward this will allow for greater flexibility. There has also been a rise in the number of royalty and streaming agreements, as well as gold bullion purchase transactions. This is the industry’s response to capital markets currently not being open to junior mining companies, and senior companies looking for alternative means of financing necessary to advance their respective projects.

Goodmans’ financing work in Africa, spanning jurisdictions such as Senegal, Burkina Faso, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been progressively growing since 2013. There is a steady flow of investment from Canada into African mining projects, which is predicted to continue for at least the next two years. Goodmans also partners with local law firms in Africa, choosing only the best lawyers for its clients.

Do you have a final message for readers?

KJM: Globally, there is a rekindling of investor confidence in the mining sector. The Africa continent is now perceived as a more attractive mining destination, and the historic risk concern for working in this region is diminishing.

Goodmans’ overarching goal is to ensure the firm is perceived by the mining industry for offering the best and most comprehensive legal advice, maintaining its reputation for resolving challenging problems across the globe that require creative solutions, whether it is for project exploration, permitting, development or production.

This interview was conducted as part of research being conducted by GBR for its upcoming Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide (MACIG) 2016. A pre-release report on the Central African Copperbelt was released in October 2015 and can be accessed here. To participate in this report, please contact Molly Concannon at mconcannon@gbreports.com.