Dec 4 Barrick Gold Corp, under fire for
a series of missteps in a tough market, confirmed on Wednesday
that its 86-year-old chairman and founder will leave the board
this spring, along with two other directors.
In a series of changes following criticisms that the gold
mining company's board lacks independence and is too easily
swayed by Munk, Barrick nominated four new independent
directors. John Thornton, current co-chairman, will take up
founder Peter Munk's position, as expected.
"Slowly, Barrick has been ticking off the boxes as it tries
to turn this big supertanker around," said Barrick shareholder
John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada. "They have been
very successful as far as addressing a lot of the problems. This
is quite positive."
Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and retired
lawyer Howard Beck, both long-term directors, will not stand for
re-election at the next meeting, the world's largest gold
producer said in a statement released after the market closed.
Its four new board nominees are: veteran Canadian money
manager Ned Goodman, property development executive Nancy
Lockhart, former university president David Naylor and Ernie
Thrasher, founder of closely held U.S. metallurgical coal
exporter Xcoal Energy & Resources.
"Ned Goodman and Ernie Thrasher bring some mining expertise
to the board, which wasn't there," said Michael Sprung,
president of Sprung Investment Management, another shareholder.
Barrick, which had been promising changes at the board for
several months, also named former De Beers executive James
Gowans as its next chief operating officer.
The Toronto-based miner has been without a permanent COO
since earlier this year, when Igor Gonzales stepped down.
TURNING TO CHINA
Thornton, former Goldman Sachs second-in-command, was
brought on in part for his exceptional connections in
deep-pocketed China. Observers say he could shore up Barrick by
allying it with powerful investors in China.
Barrick's shares have fared worse than many of its hard-hit
peers, and are languishing near 21-year lows, weighed down by
cost overruns at its now mothballed Pascua-Lama gold silver
project in the Andes and its pricey takeover of Africa-focused
copper miner Equinox in 2011.
Last month's $3 billion public offering proved a tough sell,
and sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that a recent
filing signaling Munk's likely departure had been intended to
win over reluctant investors.
Sources say Munk pushed hard for the Equinox deal, even as
his management team warned against it, as he sought to transform
Barrick into a big diversified miner in the mold of BHP Billiton
The strategy could still pay off, but it has proven
unpopular with many investors.
In an interview published on the Globe and Mail website on
Wednesday, Munk said he had made a mistake: "We bought Equinox
to increase our copper. And that was my first major mistake -
entirely attributed to hubris."