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Jan 8, 2019

Barrick heading towards not being 'de facto Canadian company': Lassonde

Franco-Nevada chair: Gold mining sector will see more mergers in 2019

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The chairman of Franco Nevada Corp. is warning that Barrick Gold Corp.’s Canadian head office is eventually going to cease to exist, as the gold miner faces questions about its future in the country.

Pierre Lassonde’s comments come after Barrick’s new chief executive Mark Bristow – who is South African and resides outside of Canada – said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg last week that the miner’s corporate office will remain in Toronto and it is seeking more assets in Canada.

Barrick laid off nearly 95 staff members at the company’s headquarters in Toronto in December, months after announcing its US$5.4-billion deal to buy Randgold Resources Ltd.

“I think [Barrick’s] head office is frankly going to disappear, and I think this is not going to be a de facto Canadian company, period,” Lassonde told BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday.

“I think right now they’ll keep their word. But they’re words – they’re not reality.”

Lassonde, whose Franco Nevada has owned a royalty on Barrick’s Goldstrike mine in Nevada since 1985, added that the different locations of Barrick’s executive team may pose challenges for its leadership.

“How would you like to run a country, for example, where the prime minister is in Vancouver and the minister of finance is in Halifax?” Lassonde said. “The head office of a company is where the CEO and the CFO sit, and they have to sit in one room. That’s where directions come from.”

Lassonde also said more mergers in the mining industry could be ahead this year, expecting capital for mining exploration to decline.

“It’s a very strong possibility that you will see more mergers. Not necessarily to compete with Barrick, but … a lot of the reserves of mining companies are going down,” Lassonde said. “The best way to do it, if you’re not going to explore… is to acquire someone.”