Munk, Mulroney leave, new faces slated for Barrick board – by Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – December 5, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Outgoing board co-chairman Peter Munk welcomes former Goldman Sachs executive John Thornton as new board chairman.

A major shakeup on Barrick Gold Corp.’s board of directors Wednesday included the replacement of chairman and legendary founder Peter Munk and the departure of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as a longtime director.

The world’s largest gold miner also announced Jim Gowans, the former chief executive of De Beers Canada, is the new chief operating officer and the nominations of veteran Canadian money manager Ned Goodman and three others to the board in moves it hopes will revive the company’s tarnished image and weak share price.

“This has been a stormy year for Barrick,” said Munk, who welcomed co-chairman John Thornton to his new job as sole chairman.

He said he was going to leave in 2012 and sail around the world with his wife, but too many things “hit the fan” at the beleaguered miner — namely cost overruns building its prized Pascua Lama project, soaring debt and the falling gold price, which have helped carve the company’s share price by more than half.

Thornton, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has been the heir apparent for the last year, will officially take the helm of the board in the spring at Barrick’s next annual meeting.

He told reporters he would consider diversification beyond gold into more copper and other commodities and even hedging against the falling gold price — a controversial practice the firm was slammed for a decade ago when gold was on the rise.

“To me, Barrick was everything. It’s like leaving your family, and you’re leaving it in good hands,” Munk said of Thornton.

The company will also introduce a new executive compensation plan at the 2014 shareholders’ meeting that it pledges will “align fully with the principle of pay-for-performance.”

Barrick came under fire last spring for large corporate pay packages and suggestions the board was too tightly controlled by Munk.

The Hungarian-born 86 year old — known for wearing fedoras and telling it like it is — has not quite left the company he built 30 years ago from a $14 million gold mine in Northern Ontario. He will remain on the board as a director alongside his son Anthony.

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