Three pension funds oppose Barrick Gold’s executive compensation – by Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – April 18, 2015)

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.

Pension plans in Ontario, B.C. and the Netherlands say they will vote against the re-election of the miner’s board of directors at annual meeting April 28

Three of the world’s largest pension funds say they won’t support the re-election of Barrick Gold Corp.’s board of directors or its executive compensation plan that includes a pay hike of 35 per cent for the board chairman.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and the Netherlands’ PGGM Vermogensbeheer B.V., which is one of Europe’s biggest pension funds, said Friday they will oppose the Toronto gold miner’s controversial pay scheme that awards $12.9 million U.S. ahead of the board’s annual meeting April 28.

The pension funds join two major proxy advisors who recently recommended shareholders vote against a boost in executive compensation after a year in which Barrick reported a net loss of $2.9 billion and lost a third of its market value as the gold price tanked.

“We continue to have concerns over the composition of the board, specifically the lack of operational mining expertise,” Teachers said in an email.

“Coupled with our ongoing concerns with the compensation decisions taken by the board, we have now lost confidence in the ability of the directors to effectively exercise their duties to our level of satisfaction,” said the statement.

The gold mining giant overhauled its compensation system after investor outrage over Thornton’s $11.9 million signing bonus in 2013, when the former Goldman Sachs president was hired to co-chair the board with company founder Peter Munk and being groomed as his eventual successor.

A Barrick spokesperson defended the bullion behemoth’s decision to hike executive pay and dismissed accusations of the board’s lack of industry expertise, saying five of 13 board members have “deep mining knowledge”.

“Instead of awarding managers based on short-term performance, we’re measuring our leaders against a long-term scorecard designed to drive superior returns for the company’s owners under wide-ranging market conditions,” said Andy Lloyd.

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