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Gold Fields sees progress in winning investors over to Yamana deal

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figure and gold imitation are seen in front of the Gold Fields logo in this illustration

(Reuters) - Gold Fields is making "encouraging progress" in winning shareholders over to its $6.7 billion all-share purchase of Canada's Yamana Gold, CEO Chris Griffith said on Thursday.

Shares in South Africa-headquartered Gold Fields dropped 20% when the deal was unveiled on May 31, as investors worried about the dilution to their holdings and the premium being paid.

Griffith, who has been talking to investors to try to persuade them of the merits of the deal, said Gold Fields was "very much on track" to get the deal approved by shareholders at a meeting expected by early November.

"We’re making encouraging progress. I think most of the shareholders are starting to understand the rationale for the deal, the strategy of the company, why Yamana, why the price," Griffith told Reuters in an interview.

He added a circular for the transaction to be sent out between late September and early October, would give investors more detailed information on which to judge the deal.

"Given the fact that we had spent seven months doing due diligence, it was highly unlikely that shareholders were going to understand it on day one," he said.

Griffith said Gold Fields was not currently considering amending the deal, after offering a Toronto listing and higher dividends last month to try to win over sceptics.

Gold Fields, which has operations in Africa, Australia and South America, reported a 29% jump in half-year profit, driven by higher metal prices and increased production.

Its headline earnings per share (HEPS) - the main profit measure in South Africa - was $0.58 for the six months to June 30, up from $0.45 a year earlier.

The company said it produced 1.201 million ounces during the half, up 9% from the same period last year. The average gold price was 3% higher over the period, it said.

Gold Fields said all-in sustaining costs (AISC) - an industry measure of production costs - rose 6% year-on-year, driven by higher fuel prices.

It declared an interim dividend of 3 rand per share.

($1 = 16.8733 rand)

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Mark Potter)