* Munk says company remains focused on being top gold miner
* Says it would be foolish for Barrick to give up primacy
By Euan Rocha
TORONTO, April 27 (Reuters) - Peter Munk, the founder and chairman of Barrick Gold, told investors at the annual meeting on Wednesday that, notwithstanding the company’s bid for copper miner Equinox, Barrick remains firmly committed to being the world’s top gold miner.
Barrick (ABX.TO) has seen its stock punished this week following a surprise C$7.3 billion ($7.65 billion) bid for Equinox Minerals EQN.TO. Critics have slammed the deal as risky and argue it could harm the price-to-cash-flow multiple that investors attach to Barrick’s stock. [ID:nN26262302]
Barrick has lost $6 billion in market capitalization, or about 10 percent of its value, since announcing the Equinox deal on Monday. Its shares continued to trend lower even after it reported strong first-quarter results on Wednesday. [ID:nN27110953]
“We would be foolish, suicidal and totally wrong to our heritage and to what we believe in, if we ever, ever, ever contemplate letting go for a single second of our primacy in the gold industry,” said Munk, 83, who founded Barrick back in the early 1980s.
“Let me just say to you categorically and hear me loud and clear,” said Munk. “There is no one better and never has been anyone better in the gold industry. Do not think that something that we have worked for these 28 years and something that we are as proud of and as committed to is going to be given up.”
Munk, who is one of the most well-respected figures in the gold industry, assured investors that Barrick would continue to focus on developing its gold assets and remaining on top in the gold sector.
“Who is so idiotic to kill the goose that laid the golden egg -- and some golden egg this is. We are not going to give it up,” he said.
$1=$0.95 Canadian Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Rob Wilson