Barrick Gold wants to show it’s a ‘discerning buyer’ with focus on value – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – February 23, 2016)

After a year in which it sold off assets at a furious pace to cope with massive debt, Barrick Gold Corp. is once again talking about possible acquisitions.

John Thornton, chairman of the Toronto-based gold producer, told attendees at the company’s first investor day in five years that he wants to show Barrick can make purchases that create value, not just debt.

“We will, over time, prove to you that we are not only discerning sellers. … We will demonstrate that we are also discerning buyers, capable of consistently creating per-share value for our owners,” Mr. Thornton told his audience in New York. He did not provide details on what type of potential acquisitions might be attractive.

Under previous leaders, Barrick made a flurry of ill-timed purchases at the peak of the commodity cycle that left it saddled with more than $13-billion (U.S.) in loans by the end of 2014. The world’s largest gold producer has waged war on that burden over the past year, selling off interests in seven of its mines to raise money and pay down more than $3-billion in debt.

Its success in slashing its debt to below $10-billion has cheered investors, as have falling production costs and a modest rise in the gold price. Since the start of the year, Barrick shares have roared ahead by more than 70 per cent.

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