Mark Bristow, Barrick Gold Corp.’s chief executive officer, is ruing a lost opportunity to buy a large United States copper miner at a bargain basement price, and is now opening the door to a merger with great rival Newmont Corp.
Just more than a year ago, when the price of copper was in the pits, Mr. Bristow openly pondered a friendly deal with Freeport-McMoRan Inc. Had the transaction happened, Mr. Bristow may well have been hailed as a genius, because in the interim Freeport’s shares have gone up nearly fourfold.
Copper this year has marched to a near record high thanks in part to rebounding demand in China, and speculative demand from traders.
Freeport made it clear it wasn’t interested in any kind of deal with Barrick, and with Freeport’s market value far outpacing Barrick’s, a takeover attempt by the Canadian miner is out of the question.
During a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, Mr. Bristow acknowledged the Freeport ship had sailed, and hinted that mistakes were made along the way.