TORONTO — The chief executive of Barrick Gold Corp. delivered a stinging rebuke to Newmont Mining Corp.’s leadership on Monday, as he outlined his $18-billion vision for combining the two gold-mining giants.
Barrick CEO Mark Bristow said a combination of the two companies was “long overdue” and would be “far superior” to Newmont’s proposed acquisition of Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc.
In addition to arguing that Barrick’s plan is financially superior, Bristow said Newmont’s plan “strikes me as both desperate and bizarre” because it anticipates the retirement of its veteran chief executive, Gary Goldberg, later this year.
Goldberg responded with his own barbs, saying Barrick’s current management team has only been together since Bristow’s Randgold Resources was acquired.
“The current Barrick management team has only been together for eight weeks and has never collectively managed a global portfolio of our scale, complexity or quality,” Goldberg said.
“However, we agree with Barrick’s position that jointly operating our collective assets in Nevada represents a compelling value opportunity for all of our shareholders. But there’s no reason to bear the risk from Barrick’s other assets.”
Goldberg also said his designated successor, Newmont president and chief operating officer Tom Palmer, will be leading an experienced team put together over the past six or seven years.
“The fact that we’ve got the depth of leadership across the business puts us in a great position. I think we sit in a good place with Tom to take over . . . The Goldcorp acquisition will continue to get us positioned to continue into the future.””
Bristow said earlier that the Newmont-Goldcorp combination “looks unlikely to deliver significant benefits to their shareholders” whereas a Barrick-Newmont deal would produce US$7 billion of “instant” synergies.
“This is the reason that we have, after some deliberation, decided to make an unsolicited but clearly superior proposal to the Newmont shareholders,” Bristow said.
“We as a team can’t wait until after Newmont and Goldcorp merge, because we don’t want Goldcorp’s lower quality assets in our portfolio.”
Shares of the three companies were down Monday morning, although Barrick was down the most just before noon.
Barrick was down 19 cents or 1.1 per cent at $16.93, off the day’s high of $17.26, while Goldcorp stock dropped five cents (less than one per cent) to $14.55 at the Toronto Stock Exchange. Goldcorp had traded as low as $14.21 earlier.
On the New York Stock Exchange, Newmont was down less than one per cent, dropping seven cents to US$36.41, after Goldberg’s comments at the BMO Metals and Mining Conference. The stock had been as low as US$35.44 earlier.
The possibility of a deal with Newmont comes less than two months after Barrick completed its merger with Randgold Resources that saw Bristow, Randgold’s founder, become chief executive of the combined company.
Bristow said Barrick had attempted repeatedly to strike a deal with Newmont in the past, but was unsuccessful for “reasons that escape me” because the advantages are “so obvious and compelling.”
Newmont, based near Denver, said Monday that Barrick’s plan “ignores risks and overstates rewards.”
Under Barrick’s zero-premium proposal, Newmont shareholders would receive 2.5694 Barrick shares for each Newmont share they hold. Barrick shareholders would end up owning 55.9 per cent of the combined company and the rest would be owned by shareholders of Newmont
Barrick said the combined company would match Newmont’s annual dividend of 56 cents per share which, based on the proposed exchange ratio, will represent a pro forma annual dividend of 22 cents per Barrick share compared with Barrick’s current annual dividend of 16 cents per share.
Based on the closing price at the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday, the offer would be worth about C$44 per Newmont share or US$33.50. At that value, the offer for Newmont would be worth US$17.8 billion.
Companies in this story: (TSX:ABX, TSX:G)
The Canadian Press