By Euan Rocha
TORONTO Aug 1 (Reuters) - Canadian miner Kinross Gold Corp named Paul Rollinson its new Chief Executive late on Wednesday, replacing long-time CEO Tye Burt, who spearheaded its massive acquisition of Red Back Mining that has so far failed to live up to expectations.
The announcement, just ahead of Kinross's quarterly results next week, has some on Wall Street fearing further bad news from the miner which has already seen its share price halve within the last year.
The gold miner paid a staggering $7.1 billion to acquire West African-focused Red Back Mining in 2010. However, earlier this year, Kinross booked a $2.94 billion non-cash goodwill impairment charge related to its acquisition of the Tasiast gold mine in Mauritania and the Chirano gold mine in Ghana - both of which were acquired from Red Back.
"Given the recent trend of weak second-quarter earnings and capital expenditure over-runs, there is a risk that Kinross delivers further bad news and effectively assigns the blame on former management," said Deutsche Bank analyst Jorge Beristain in a note to clients.
Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold miner, less than two months ago replaced its CEO Aaron Regent. Just last week, Barrick announced disappointing quarterly results and a big spike in capital costs at Pascua-Lama, one of its largest growth projects.
"Recent management change-outs appear to be a delayed reaction to the several years of underperformance of North American gold majors vis-à-vis the gold price and missed delivery targets on project capital expenditure and M&A turn-arounds," said Beristain, who suggested Burt's departure could spark a relief rally in Kinross' shares.
Shares of Kinross have fallen 53 percent in the last twelve months. Its stock closed Wednesday at $7.94 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Rollinson, who takes over from Burt after his seven-year tenure as CEO, was formerly head of corporate development at Kinross. Like Burt, he is also a former investment banker, who has worked for Scotia Capital and Deutsche Bank, among others.
Credit Suisse analyst Anita Soni said Rollinson may have been tapped to lead portfolio reshuffling at the company.
"We believe Mr. Rollinson has been hired to lead the asset rationalization and restructuring process for Kinross which may include a divestment of Tasiast," said Soni, in a research note.
Kinross is in the middle of a "comprehensive capital and project optimization process" that was announced earlier this year, with an eye to improving its investment returns.
"Paul understands all facets of the mining industry, including exploration and mining, mining finance and mining transactions. He is highly regarded and well-known throughout the industry, and possesses the leadership qualities we need to oversee and implement our strategy," said Kinross Chairman John Oliver, in a statement.