CEO says Barrick has plenty of financial ‘firepower’ for deals – by Danielle Bochove (BNN/Bloomberg News – December 12, 2019)

Barrick Gold Corp.’s chief says the gold miner has the financial heft it needs to support its loftiest ambitions — and some day those might include a merger with Freeport-McMoRan Inc.

“Barrick, by end of next year, or during next year, will be net debt zero,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said Thursday in a phone interview. “We’ve definitely got the firepower to build a mine or to support a transaction. We don’t need any external support, for any of our ambitions, as we stand today.”

The world’s second-largest gold miner has been generating more cash flow, with higher bullion prices, even as it has sold assets. By the end of this year net debt will be under US$2 billion, Bristow said. “We’re going to settle all the near-term debt, and we’re left with debt that’s only due from 2023 onwards.”

In an interview last month, Bristow said there’s a logic to combining Barrick with Freeport as part of a broader gold strategy.

While it makes sense to start an “intellectual conversation” about a deal with the Phoenix-based copper miner, Barrick spent three years putting together its tie-up with Randgold Resources Ltd. and has no plans to rush into anything, he said Thursday. Any tie-up with Freeport would also have to be friendly.

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