Two and a half years into his tenure as Barrick Gold Corp.’s chief executive, Mark Bristow is sticking to the party line, reassuring investors that miners have learned from past mistakes and will not overpay for deals.
“We blew our brains out over the last big bull market,” he said in an interview Monday. After enduring billions of dollars of writedowns and adding boatloads of debt, he has a new mantra for Barrick: “We’re not putting our balance sheet at risk.”
But Mr. Bristow is a conflicted man, because in almost the same breath he acknowledges that he would love for Barrick to get bigger. After all, this is a man who, without hesitation, publicly floated merging with giants Newmont Mining and Freeport-McMoRan in the past, only to be rebuffed.
Although those giants are currently out of reach because their shares have performed better than Barrick’s of late, Mr. Bristow still sees expansion as a necessity.
“If you’re larger, you attract generalists on to your register,” Mr. Bristow said on a conference call Monday after the miner reported quarterly earnings. “And this industry needs consolidation by that very thesis.”
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