In October, Marcel “Mac” DeGuire became president and chief operating officer of Guyana Goldfields, an exploration-stage company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange that has been losing money trying to develop gold mines in South America for years. Within a few weeks DeGuire was helping to convince investors to buy into a Guyana Goldfields financing for C$3.40 a share, a significant fund raise for the company of some $100 million that closed in February. Eleven days later, however, DeGuire resigned from Guyana Goldfields, citing “personal reasons.” The stock has plunged by more than 60% in 2013 and is now changing hands for C$1.24.
It might be surprising for some market watchers to learn that Guyana Goldfields’ biggest shareholder is the Baupost Group, the massive Boston hedge fund firm run by Seth Klarman. Baupost owns 19.7% of Guyana Goldfields, a stake recently worth about $30 million. A billionaire hedge fund genius, Klarman is one of the most revered money managers of his generation, a value investor who likes to steer clear of controversy and public attention, keep his head down and concentrate on his investments. His track record and reputation are stellar, which makes it a little strange that Baupost has gotten behind Guyana Goldfields and some other long shot, some might even say iffy, gold mining ventures with penny stocks and high executive pay. These companies often make sure to point out that Baupost is a major investor in their shares in investment presentations.