The gutting of Barrick Gold – it didn’t have to be this way – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – January 5, 2019)

Before I moved to Europe in 2007, I spent almost a decade in Toronto writing about the eradication of Corporate Canada. Most big companies I followed – Inco, Falconbridge, Alcan, Dofasco, Molson, Fairmont, Four Seasons, among others – were flogged to foreigners, their head offices downgraded to branch plants or eliminated.

Were it not for ownership restrictions, the banks also would have surrendered to the cult of shareholder value – take the premium and hit the links. Canadians were sellers, not builders. If there was one company that was safe from the takeover onslaught, it was Barrick Gold, I thought. I was both right and wrong, but more wrong.

At the time, Barrick was run by its founder, Peter Munk, the Hungarian-born Canadian patriot who wanted to build the world’s biggest gold miner. After achieving that goal, he mused about creating a diversified resources giant, the equivalent of a BHP Billiton or Rio Tinto under the Maple Leaf.

But he was too late: By the time he was ready to put the pieces together, in the middle part of the previous decade, all his potential targets, including Inco, had been plucked clean from the Toronto stock market.

Still, Barrick was the biggest of its kind and devoted to keeping its head office in Toronto – Canada could lay claim to at least one world-class mining company. But after Mr. Munk stepped down as chairman in 2014, the Barrick narrative changed subtly, perhaps without Mr. Munk even noticing it (he was fighting a losing battle to stay healthy and died last March at the age of 90).

For the rest of this article:

Comments are closed.