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Barrick looking at 'a lot' of M&A opportunities: new CEO Regent

Discussion in 'Biashara, Uchumi na Ujasiriamali' started by Maxence Melo, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. Maxence Melo

    Maxence Melo JF Founder Staff Member

    Jan 16, 2009
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    By: Liezel Hill
    Published on 16th January 2009

    The world's biggest gold-miner, Toronto-based Barrick Gold, is looking at a range of acquisition opportunities, said president and CEO Aaron Regent, who stepped into the position on Friday.

    The company's corporate activity team is “very active” on the merger and acquisition side, he said.

    “There are a lot of things that they are looking at.”

    He assured investors that nothing on the table would be pushed back to allow him time to settle into his new role.

    "I would shudder to think that I would be the cause of a delay for anything that made sense for the company."

    Regent, 43, takes the helm of the world's biggest bullion producer at a time when many smaller rivals are desperate for funds to meet working requirements or complete capital projects.

    Although gold firms have fared better than many of their peers who produce base metals or coal, shares have still fallen dramatically off highs reached in the first half of 2008, making them easy pickings for firms with well-positioned balance sheets, like Barrick.

    In September, Barrick completed a $1,25-billion bond offering - the group's biggest ever.

    As of October 30, it had a fully undrawn credit facility of $1,5-billion, plus a cash position of $1,7-billion.

    Regent said that Barrick's balance sheet, geographic diversification and project pipeline puts it in an "enviable" position.

    "From what I have seen so far, the company is in great shape," he emphasised.

    Regent said that the group, which has has 27 operating mines around the world, will remain focused on gold, although he added that it was important to be "adaptable" going into the future.

    Barrick currently has a policy of not entering into new gold hedges, and Regent said he did not anticipate any changes to that.

    There are a lot of "bullish" factors that will likely contribute to a strong gold price going forward, including US spending commitments that will put pressure on the dollar, constrained new mine supply of the metal and expectations that gold consumption will recover when the global economy revives in a few years, he said.

    His priorities over the months ahead will be to ensure that the company continues to meet production targets, keeps costs under control, ensure that new projects come in on time and budget, and that capital is invested appropriately.

    The company has three large mines in development - Buzwagi, in Tanzania, Cortez Hills, in Nevada, and Pueblo Viejo, in the Dominican Republic, and is planning several others.

    Regent was previously senior managing partner of Brookfield Asset Management Inc and co-CEO of its Infrastructure Group, and is a former president of Canadian nickel-miner Falconbridge.

    He takes over the CEO responsibilities from chairperson and founder Peter Munk, who stepped into the position temporarily last year after Greg Wilkins took an extended leave of absence owing to illness. Wilkins subsequently resigned in July, and the company began looking for a replacement.

    Barrick became the world's number-one gold producer after it ousted Newmont Mining from the top spot in 2006, when it bought smaller rival Placer Dome.