For more than two decades, Mark Bristow has been a thorn in the side of Barrick Gold Corp. Now he’s its closest partner.
The 59-year-old South African will take the role of chief executive officer at Barrick after the Canadian company inked a $5.4 billion deal to buy out Randgold Resources Ltd. It’s a bigger stage for Bristow, known as an outsider for his sharp and frequent criticisms of the gold industry and a genius at running an African mine.
Bristow’s personality looms large. He’s fond of cigars and big-game hunts, as well as motocross expeditions across Africa. He’s been known to use his pilot license to fly investors directly to African mines via his private plane, and run Randgold from top to bottom, often personally handling its investor and media communications.
That’s the limitless energy and fresh perspective that Barrick needs, said Hunter Hillcoat, an analyst at Investec Securities Ltd. The Canadian company, led by Executive Chairman John Thornton, has lost about 70 percent of its value in the past decade.
Bristow is “a big, larger-than-life, alpha-male personality, who’s going to have to go in and see what he can do,” Hillcoat said by phone. “He’s going to be given a large amount of free rein.”