Barrick Gold Corp.’s $5.4-billion acquisition of Randgold Resources was completed in January and speculation that the merger was just the start of more changes to come to the gold mining sector were confirmed when Mark Bristrow, chief executive of Barrick and former chief executive officer of Randgold spoke with reporters.
“Without a doubt, this industry needs transformation,” Bristow said in an interview from New York, where the combined company started trading in January. “We believe we have started that. We’re going to end up with a blue-chip business and on the way we’re not going to be sitting on our hands should there be other opportunities.”
By combining the two companies, Barrick says it will run five of the 10 best gold mines in the world, with operations from Nevada to South America and Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The deal happened at a time when gold mining has fallen out of favor with many investors after a year of lackluster bullion prices and a recent history of costly takeovers and mine developments that racked up debt but didn’t pay off.
“This industry, if it had carried on the way it was, was going to become irrelevant,” said Bristow, a South African geologist who founde Randgold more than 20 years ago. The industry has “too few assets with too many management teams and it needs reorganization.”
The Financial Post reported that Randgold’s more than 20-year listing in London with its merger with Barrick was completed. It’s been one of the U.K.’s most successful corporate stories, gaining more than 5,000 per cent so far this century.
While John Thornton will continue as executive chairman, Randgold personnel will populate much of the upper management. Graham Shuttleworth, who was Randgold’s chief financial officer, assumes the same role in the merged company, while Randgold’s Willem Jacobs will head Barrick’s Africa and Middle East division. He has already attended meetings in Tanzania, where Barrick has one of its most intractable problems.
Since the deal was announced there has been speculation that it could spur a new wave of consolidation as rivals such as Newmont Mining Corp. and Goldcorp Inc. respond, while Barrick is also likely to look to hive off some assets.