April 24, 2014 / 1:27 AM / 4 years ago

Barrick-Newmont make merger headway but divide remains -sources

April 23 (Reuters) - The disagreements around the spin-out of certain assets that had snagged merger talks between Barrick Gold Corp and its rival, Newmont Mining Corp, have been resolved but talks are at a standstill for now, said three sources familiar with the matter on Wednesday.

There have been some talks between representatives of both companies since discussions broke down last Thursday, but high-level talks between executives from both sides have yet to resume, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the discussions.

The merger talks between the two gold mining giants around a deal hit a snag last week, but sources had told Reuters at the time that the two sides remained keen to reach a deal and that talks were likely to resume.

Barrick and Newmont declined to comment on the talks.

Two sources said on Wednesday that some of the disagreement now lies around the power-sharing structure at the board level within a new combined entity.

One of those sources said the two companies have agreed to a 14-member board for the new entity, with seven nominees from the Barrick’s board, five from Newmont’s side and two new nominees.

However, certain specifics around the new board members and disagreements around who gains control of the key corporate governance committee are a potential sticking point at this stage, said the two sources.

The corporate governance committee on a board plays a vital role as it reviews the size of the board, its other committees and it also nominates new members to join a board. Hence the committee can in time reshape the face of a company’s board.

The two sources said Barrick is still keen to get a deal done before its annual general meeting (AGM) on April 30, but one added that may well depend entirely on how soon Newmont opts to re-engage in discussions. Newmont held its own AGM earlier on Wednesday in Delaware.

The latest round of merger talks marks the third time the two miners with large overlapping operations in Nevada have contemplated a merger within the last seven years. Sources familiar with the discussions said talks between the two sides had fallen apart in the past, largely due to personality issues.

Analysts and others have long thought a tie-up, particularly given the vast overlap in their combined operations in Nevada, was logical from a cost-cutting perspective.

Sources familiar with the matter have previously said that combining the mining giants’ operations could lead to nearly $1 billion in annual cost savings with nearly half of those savings coming from reducing overlap in Nevada. (Additional reporting by Anjuli Davies in London and Mike Stone in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Sandra Maler)

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