Barrick ousts CEO in major shakeup – by Peter Koven (National Post – June 6, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

In a surprise move, Barrick Gold Corp. announced it is replacing chief executive Aaron Regent as its share price continues to underperform.
Chief financial officer Jamie Sokalsky has been named the new CEO in the shakeup. As well, Barrick director John L. Thornton has been appointed co-chairman with Peter Munk. Barrick provided few details about why it decided to make this dramatic move, though Mr. Munk pointed to the weak share price.
“We are fully committed to maximizing shareholder value, but have been disappointed with our share price performance. Our board has every confidence in Jamie’s experience and ability to take the company forward,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Munk has constantly praised Mr. Regent’s actions in the past, so this move caught investors off-guard. Despite the weak share performance, Mr. Regent was well regarded among investors.
In the statement, Mr. Sokalsky said he feels “enormously privileged” to be the new CEO. He is a Barrick veteran, having joined the company in 1993 and acted as CFO since 1999. “My focus will be on maximizing shareholder value and our mission of superior performance,” he said.
Barrick shares rose 2% in early trading on Wednesday, boosted by a 1.4% jump in the price of gold.

Mr. Regent took a number of major steps to try and boost Barrick’s share price, but none of them seemed to work. He unwound Barrick’s hedge book, spun off its African assets, boosted the dividend, and spent $7.3-billion on copper miner Equinox Minerals Ltd.
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