He’s fending off a shareholder revolt and fighting for a legacy
Back in 1996, Peter Munk sat down with one of his biographers and laid out his 34 “golden rules” for success in business. Some of them offer practical advice: “Always leave something on the table in a public issue. If you push for the last penny, it may hurt you the next time around.” While others border on fortune-cookie wisdom: “Time is short.
If you want to achieve much, you’ve got to run.” Taken all together, the list seems less like a coherent corporate philosophy than an odd mélange of exhortations to take risks and calls for fiscal prudence. But there was also an element of prophecy—at least when it comes to the current fortunes of the celebrated 85-year-old entrepreneur. “If you want to dream big, expect big problems,” states rule 30. “Big dreams challenge the fates.”
From its humble beginnings as an oil and gas play in 1983, Munk’s Toronto-headquartered Barrick Gold Corporation has grown into the world’s largest gold producer, with 24 mines operating on four continents, five more in development and ore reserves estimated at more than 140 million ounces. Characterized by the relentless pace and sheer scale of its acquisitions, including a 2011 foray into copper with the $7.66-billion takeover of Equinox Minerals Ltd., the company had been a darling of investors for more than two decades. At its peak in 2011, Barrick was trading at $53 a share and had a market capitalization of $54 billion.