ROME — As Peter Munk slips uneasily into retirement, he doesn’t really not want to be known for Porto Montenegro, the superyacht marina that he and his billionaire friends built on the Adriatic Sea. He wants to be known for Barrick Gold, the Toronto mining company that he cursed only two years ago but now praises as an industrial Lazarus.
On Friday, Mr. Munk, who is 88 and plotting his retreat to Lyford Cay, a gated community for the wealthy in the Bahamas, announced the sale of Porto Montenegro to the Investment Corp. of Dubai, the Persian Gulf country’s sovereign wealth fund, for an undisclosed amount.
Financially speaking, the sale is no big deal; at best, it earned a small profit for the Munk-led investment group that turned a rotted, former Yugoslavian naval base into one of the Mediterranean’s most glamorous yacht parking lots. Its greater significance is that it marks the end of an era for Mr. Munk. He insists he will never fully retire, and that he’s still got a few deals left in him, but he is unlikely to take on a project as big again.
He’s more concerned with his legacy. “Barrick is my legacy,” he said in long phone interview earlier this week. “It’s what I’m known for. It’s what I did for 34 years … Barrick is completely back to its glory days.”
Well, not quite, but there is little doubt that the worst is over for the top name in the gold business, and one of the exceeding few Canadian mining companies that can claim global player status without be laughed out of the conference centre. A couple of years ago, Barrick shares were taking a BlackBerry-like plunge to the bottom of the mine shaft, the victim of stunning project cost overruns in Latin America and the falling gold price.
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