(Adds comment from Barrick spokesman, analyst comment)
TORONTO, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp named mining industry veteran Shaun Usmar as its chief financial officer designate on Tuesday, marking the latest shake-up at the world’s biggest gold miner.
Usmar, the former finance head of Xstrata Nickel, is set to replace Ammar Al-Joundi, who will be leaving Barrick after the company’s year-end results are announced.
Usmar will join Barrick on Nov. 24 and take up the role of CFO on Feb. 18, 2015, the company said, adding that he will work with Al-Joundi until his departure in order to ensure a smooth transition.
“There was mutual recognition that it was time for a change,” said Barrick spokesman Andy Lloyd about Al-Joundi’s departure.
The Toronto-based gold mining giant has in the last three months let go of at least three other top executives, including its chief executive, the head of legal counsel, and its head of corporate development.
The moves suggest that John Thornton, Barrick’s executive chairman since April when he took the reins from founder Peter Munk, continues to put his stamp on the company, said TD Securities analyst Greg Barnes.
Usmar’s background at Xstrata and his role as one of the founding members of the team that grew that company into one of the world’s largest diversified miners “may serve to underscore a view that Mr. Thornton’s long-term plan could be to diversify Barrick away from being a pure gold producer,” Barnes said.
Barrick has also been reducing costs by cutting staffing levels at its head office in Toronto and other places, as it grapples with a weaker gold price.
In September, Barrick eliminated its entire corporate development team, as takeovers are not much of a focus for the company at this time.
That announcement came just after the miner announced that CEO Jamie Sokalsky was stepping down in September and would not be replaced.
Barrick, along with its smaller peers, has been hurt badly in the last couple of years by the decline in the price of gold.
The miner, in the last few years, has been largely focused on cutting costs and selling over $1 billion worth of assets deemed non-core. Takeovers have not really been on its radar, although it did abort an attempt to merge with rival Newmont Mining Corp early this year. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; editing by G Crosse and Gunna Dickson)