No paper is good paper these days, even in money-market funds


By Sue Thomas

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 8. (Reuters) -- South Africa's second-largest
gold producer Gold Fields on Friday denied market talk that it is
about to make a bid for Canadian peer Placer Dome Inc, but its
share price still fell on investor concerns.

"It's a vicious rumour and there is no substance to it," Gold Fields
spokesman Willie Jacobsz told Reuters.

Gold Fields' share price tumbled 8 percent to a late-session low of
109.50 rand, extending Thursday's losses after releasing results
that were below expectations. It closed at 110 rand, down 7.6 percent.

It was the top-traded stock by dealers in Johannesburg.

It shrugged off a strong gold price, which hit a four-week peak of
$323 an ounce on Friday, and underperformed the gold index,
which lost 2.9 percent on a stronger rand.

Gold Fields has been the Johannesburg market's favourite big
gold stock, outperforming its peers by more than 21 percent
between January and the end of trade on Thursday. But Friday's
losses brought that down to about 19 percent.

"It's the rumour about Placer Dome, even though the company
has denied it. The feeling is that Placer Dome would be too big
a chunk for them to bite off, particularly with its takeover of
AurionGold," said David Le Roux of Sanlam Asset Management.

Placer Dome on Friday extended its takeover offer for Australia's
AurionGold Ltd. for one week until November 15. As of Friday,
the Canadian firm held 91.2 percent of AurionGold shares, enabling
them to move to compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares.

"They (Gold Fields ADRs) were hit quite hard in the U.S. last night.
There was a rumour that they were going to take over Placer Dome,
but we didn't think much of that," one dealer said.

He said Gold Fields offered a good buying opportunity at present
levels, and expected its share price to stabilise between 113 and
116 rand in the short term.

Gold Fields produced 4.1 million ounces of gold in 2001. Placer
Dome's 2001 production was 2.8 million ounces.

Placer Dome is one of the biggest foreign investors in South
Africa's gold mining industry, with its 50 percent stake in the South
Deep mine. The rest is held by Johannesburg-based Western
Areas Ltd.