TORONTO — Tuesday’s annual meeting had to feel like a pleasant change of pace for Barrick Gold Corp.’s directors and senior management: For the first time in years, there was no crisis to avert.
At last year’s meeting, shareholders were outraged over chairman John Thornton’s compensation. The year before that, there was frustration and confusion over the company’s failed attempt to merge with Newmont Mining Corp. And in 2013, there was yet another controversy over Thornton’s pay.
On Tuesday, Barrick executives could just focus on the company’s performance, which has been stellar over the past year. “Barrick is back,” Thornton told the audience in Toronto.
Since replacing Peter Munk as chairman two years ago, Thornton has overhauled Barrick’s structure to try to return the company to its entrepreneurial roots. The former Goldman Sachs executive has shaken up the senior management team, shrunk the head office and increased co-operation between mine managers.
The results have borne fruit, as Barrick has delivered strong operating results, reduced debt and repeatedly cut its cost guidance. On Tuesday, the company reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings of US$127 million (on and adjusted basis) and lowered all-in sustaining cost guidance for 2016 by as much as eight per cent (to between US$760 and US$810 an ounce).
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