Barrick Gold CEO blasts rivals for chasing major mergers — while grappling with his own US$1.6-billion writedown – by Tim Kiladze (Globe and Mail – February 16, 2023)

Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow cannot believe rival miners are contemplating expensive mergers and acquisitions all over again, after the industry suffered through tens of billions of dollars’ worth of M&A writedowns when the last commodity supercycle crashed.

“The mining industry generally are world champions in investing in the peaks, and going bust in the troughs,” he said in an interview. Barrick was one of the worst-hit miners when the last supercycle crashed a decade ago, writing down US$20.7-billion between 2013 and 2015 under previous leadership.

Mr. Bristow took over in 2019 through an all-share, no-premium merger with Randgold Resources – which he ran – and lately he has preached organic growth. “It’s crazy that my colleagues in the industry find [this strategy] difficult,” he said.

The trouble for Barrick is that its own strategy isn’t winning shareholders over, at least not yet. Rising costs forced the miner to cut its dividend when it reported earnings Wednesday, and Barrick also took a US$1.6-billion writedown comprised of multiple charges.

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