Barrick says Munk to step down, two other directors out

Wed Dec 4, 2013 6:16pm EST
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(Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO: Quote), under fire for a series of missteps in a tough market, confirmed on Wednesday that its 86-year-old chairman and founder will leave the board this spring, along with two other directors.

In a series of changes following criticisms that the gold mining company's board lacks independence and is too easily swayed by Munk, Barrick nominated four new independent directors. John Thornton, current co-chairman, will take up founder Peter Munk's position, as expected.

"Slowly, Barrick has been ticking off the boxes as it tries to turn this big supertanker around," said Barrick shareholder John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada. "They have been very successful as far as addressing a lot of the problems. This is quite positive."

Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and retired lawyer Howard Beck, both long-term directors, will not stand for re-election at the next meeting, the world's largest gold producer said in a statement released after the market closed.

Its four new board nominees are: veteran Canadian money manager Ned Goodman, property development executive Nancy Lockhart, former university president David Naylor and Ernie Thrasher, founder of closely held U.S. metallurgical coal exporter Xcoal Energy & Resources.

"Ned Goodman and Ernie Thrasher bring some mining expertise to the board, which wasn't there," said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung Investment Management, another shareholder.

Barrick, which had been promising changes at the board for several months, also named former De Beers executive James Gowans as its next chief operating officer.

The Toronto-based miner has been without a permanent COO since earlier this year, when Igor Gonzales stepped down.

TURNING TO CHINA   Continued...

Barrick Gold Corporation Founder and Chairman Peter Munk attends a news conference in Toronto, December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Harris