The marriage of Toronto’s Barrick Gold and Denver’s Newmont Mining, the two big beasts of the gold world, should have happened a long time ago. The theoretical deal made perfect sense because combining their properties in Nevada could save fortunes, all the better to reward shareholders.
And since the top mining companies tend to be run by egomaniacs obsessed with size, the union would come with bragging rights. Barrick-Newmont would bury the competition.
Mark Bristow, the new chief executive of Barrick, has revived the idea of a blockbuster Barrick-Newmont merger. If there is any executive in the mining industry who could pull off such a stunt, it is him. He has the chutzpah and his track record of superb value creation at his old haunt – Randgold Resources, which Barrick bought last year – might ensure the support of investors.
He would also have the full backing of John Thornton, the former Goldman Sachs president who is the executive chairman of Barrick and the man who went after Randgold, in good part because he wanted to recruit Mr. Bristow.
Together, Mr. Bristow and Mr. Thornton are the double-headed great white shark of the mining world. They are hungry and the company has a board of directors that seems unlikely to reject their ambitions, no matter how expensive and complicated the deal might be.
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