What I learned in Europe with Canadian mining heavyweights

 Tommy and the Titans

Gianni and Ross in Geneva

I’ve spent a few years now around Howe Street and I’ve been lucky to make some great connections. One in particular, Gianni Kovacevic, an investor and speaker at this weekend’s Cambridge House conference, has been good to me.

What Gianni does is buy positions in companies, and then he does everything he can to add value, like introducing investors in Europe to his stories. I’ve ridden on his investment coat tails a few times, and been well rewarded for it. He’s called Howe Street’s European ambassador because he speaks five languages and seems to know everyone over here and there.

Gianni’s local network includes two of the most respected entrepreneurs in the mining sector: Ross Beaty, the legend who was Northern Miner’s Person of the Year in 2011, and Amir Adnani, the founder of Uranium Energy Corp, the world’s newest uranium producer. In his typical uncanny way, Gianni was able to pinpoint a time when both Ross and Amir would be in Europe, and he volunteered to arrange a few lunches for them with investors he knows in Paris, Geneva and Zurich.

Just after New Year’s Day, he invited me to come along. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.

We spent last week touring Europe to update investors on Alterra PowerPan American SilverLumina Copper, and Uranium Energy Corp. We had beers in the Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland, Guinness in Dublin, Bordeaux in Paris, Schnitzel in Zurich, and Macaroons in Monaco. (Okay, that was just me. The titans I was with were actually working.)

In the second half of this post, I reflect on what I learned. Scroll down to see pictures and continue reading.

 Tommy and the Titans

Alterra’s Svartsengi geothermal power plant in Iceland.

 Tommy and the Titans

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Add it to your bucket list.

 Tommy and the Titans

Day 2 in Paris. One of 7 cities in 7 days for me.

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No frills. Just data plans.

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Spectacular Monaco


It was, to say the least, a thoroughly enjoyable lesson in how to effectively get the word out about your company to quality investors. Europe at the moment presents a great opportunity for potential money. The two hundred-odd fund managers we met control private capital of all kinds from all places.

Particularly striking was their view of today’s investing climate. European institutional investors, the ones I met at least, see a lot more downside in the Euro, and would much rather own assets in Canadian, or somewhat surprisingly, American dollars.

Another point that registered with me was that, with European bank secrecy laws evaporating, portfolio managers in Europe are under more pressure than ever for returns. So they’re constantly hunting for new and lucrative investments.

For example: The single question most asked of me by portfolio managers in Europe was, “What is Ross Beaty’s next deal?” — he being a very successful exploration investor. (I learned over dinner in Zurich that it will be copper in Poland, if he can strike a compromise with the Polish government on taxation.)

I saw some great marketing savvy displayed by Ross, Amir and Gianni in Europe, and it was confidence-inspiring. I don’t know about you, but I’m skittish about investing in the capital markets these days. So it was reassuring to see that even billion-dollar fund managers feel the same way and could be calmed by good people with a good story.

In difficult times, investors have to look to companies with management teams who dedicate the bulk of their time to marketing and deliver what they promise. There are billions of Euros on the sidelines looking for a home (or even a vacation rental) in North America, but that money is not going to respond to cliche Howe Street promotion tactics involving high-decibel bull and not much else.

Credible executives who commit to shining some light on their companies are the ones to pay attention to today because the global investment world is searching for ideas and direction in the current darkness.

At this Sunday and Monday’s Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, after you’ve asked exhibitors about their projects and capital structure, quiz them about how they’re planning to market their companies to professional investors in 2012. If they’re not constantly communicating their value, they’re probably not worth your time.

As one of the investors in Europe said to me, “The world belongs to doers like Ross, Amir and Gianni.” *Note all three of these men will be at this weekend’s conference.