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Feb 22, 2019

Barrick-Newmont 'makes no sense': Pierre Lassonde blasts deal chatter

Barrick's possible merger with Newmont is 'what you see at a market bottom': Mining analyst

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One of the most prominent names in the mining industry is blasting the mere possibility of Barrick Gold Corp., calling its potential hostile takeover bid for Newmont Mining Corp. "stupid."

"Someone is having fun with the press," said Pierre Lassonde, chairman of Franco-Nevada Corp. (FNV.TO), in an emailed statement to BNN Bloomberg. "A hostile bid in this environment is stupid. [Barrick's] stock would get crushed." 

Barrick (ABX.TO) confirmed in a short press release Friday morning that it has "reviewed the opportunity" to merge with Newmont (NEM.N) in what the company said would be an all-stock, no premium offer. Barrick added it hasn't decided how it will proceed. 

Earlier, Bloomberg News and The Globe and Mail reported Barrick had considered taking a run at its Colorado-based rival. While Bloomberg indicated Barrick has "looked on and off at the feasibility" of bidding for Newmont, The Globe indicated Barrick could make a hostile offer with the intent of subsequently selling some assets to Newcrest Mining Ltd. and pulling the plug on Newmont's US$10-billion purchase of Goldcorp Inc.  

Lassonde -- who has roots at Newmont, having previously served as the company's president and vice chair -- said a tie-up, as contemplated and reported, "makes no sense at all." Specifically, he believes a takeover offer with no premium "is the last thing [Newmont] would ever do" in light of the company's balance sheet, project portfolio, and operational expertise. 

The possibility of a Barrick-Newmont deal has been a source of speculation for years, due in part to their respective footprints in Nevada. 

But Lassonde is circumspect about the possibility of a tie-up. 

"This whole thing," he told BNN Bloomberg, "is a complete figment of someone’s imagination that’s using the press to have fun and make a bundle on their [Newmont] options."