Barrick Gold hires BlackRock fund manager to help with turnround – by James Wilson (Financial Times – May 1, 2015)

Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer by output, is hiring one of the UK mining sector’s best known fund managers as part of executive chairman John Thornton’s push to improve the struggling company.

Catherine Raw is joining Barrick’s leadership team from BlackRock, the asset manager, where she was co-head of its largest mining fund and highly critical of the performance and strategy of most of the world’s largest gold miners. The sector needed “to start seeing some really painful decisions being made”, Ms Raw said in December.

Barrick has shaken up its top ranks since Mr Thornton, a former Goldman Sachs banker, took over as executive chairman last year from founder Peter Munk. The Canadian miner has come under fire from investors after three consecutive years of net losses driven largely by writedowns on misfiring projects and acquisitions.

Mr Thornton — who pledged to review Barrick’s management pay policy after it was rejected at an advisory vote at this week’s annual shareholder meeting — has repeatedly said the company needs to do a better job of allocating investment to projects.

Barrick also needed to become “obsessed with talent”, Mr Thornton said at the annual meeting. The company’s chief executive departed last year and was replaced by two co-president’s operating under Mr Thornton.

At BlackRock Ms Raw was co-manager of its $5bn world mining fund and of its smaller listed BlackRock World Mining Trust, which performed poorly in 2014 after it had to write off an investment connected to a west African iron ore mine.

The trust said in March that Ms Raw was leaving for a corporate role, fuelling speculation in the sector about which miner she was joining.

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