Barrick set to unveil board changes, name new COO: sources

Mon Dec 2, 2013 4:16pm EST
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By Euan Rocha, Allison Martell and Koh Gui Qing

TORONTO/BEIJING (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO: Quote), the world's largest gold producer, is poised to announce a board shuffle and name a new chief operating officer, according to several sources familiar with the situation.

Barrick is expected to announce on Wednesday that founder and long-time Chairman Peter Munk will hand over the role of chairman to his heir apparent, John Thornton, currently co-chairman.

In addition, at least two directors will step down at the company's next annual meeting in the spring, two of the sources said.

Barrick is also expected to name new independent directors who will join its board, but those changes are not expected to take effect until the company's next annual meeting.

A spokesman for Barrick declined to comment on the changes and said the company would update the market following a board meeting on December 4.

The company has been struggling with issues at many of its key mines and projects including its huge Pascua-Lama project on the border of Chile and Argentina, and its Jabal Sayid copper project in Saudi Arabia and its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia both acquired via its C$7.3 billion ($6.9 billion) acquisition of Africa-focused copper miner Equinox in 2011.

Barrick shareholders have been unhappy with the company's track record on corporate governance. This year, shareholders demonstrated their anger by voting against Barrick's non-binding proposal on executive compensation, in particular a huge $11.9 million signing bonus for Thornton.

Three sources said Barrick has been trying for months to fill the COO position, and came close a few times, only to have discussions with some candidates break down.   Continued...

Barrick Gold Corporation Chairman Peter Munk waves during the annual general meeting of shareholders in Toronto May 2, 2012. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese