African Barrick Gold hires new chief executive

 
Suzie Neuwirth
TANZANIA-FOCUSED miner African Barrick Gold yesterday announced that it has appointed industry veteran Bradley A Gordon as its new chief executive in an attempt to turn around the company’s fortunes.

The former Intrepid Mines chief executive replaces Greg Hawkins – who the company said has resigned to pursue other opportunities – with immediate effect.

The FTSE 250-listed gold producer has struggled with operational issues and wider market challenges since being spun out of Canada’s Barrick Gold and floated back in 2010. Shares have fallen 73 per cent since the market listing.

African Barrick Gold wrote down the value of its mines by $727m (£464m) in July having reported first-half losses of $701m, and is currently undergoing an operational restructuring.

Like other miners, it has also struggled to combat plummeting gold prices, which have fallen over 20 per cent so far this year.

“We have recently announced the details of our operational review, which aims to make meaningful and lasting cost reductions, optimise mine plans and drive returns,” said chairman Kelvin Dushnisky in yesterday’s statement.

“The board is confident that Brad’s experience and track record in generating shareholder value, combined with his strong appreciation of community and employees, make him the right person to lead the company at this pivotal time.”

The miner’s shares closed 0.4 per cent lower at 155.30p.

PROFILE: BRADLEY GORDON

BRADLEY Gordon will certainly have a tough job on his hands as he tries to turn around African Barrick Gold, but the “seasoned executive” with over 30 years of industry experience is no stranger to challenges. He was most recently chief executive of embattled Canadian and Australian precious metals explorer Intrepid Mines, resigning earlier this month after boardroom battles. The problems started when Intrepid was kicked off the site of an Indonesian copper and gold mine last year by its local partner who transferred the leases into a new company. Indonesia said the move was legal which Intrepid contested. Following the legal battles, shareholder Quantum Pacific attempted to oust five of Intrepid’s seven board members, including Gordon, although most shareholders came out in support of the board. Analysts have been broadly positive about Gordon’s move to African Barrick Gold. “Bradley steps into a challenging position within a company with significant structural issues, mostly related to its social licence to operate, but his experience working in difficult operations [while working at Intrepid] should help to offset his lack of African experience,” said Kate Craig, analyst at Liberum, in a note. “The real test will be whether or not Bradley can deliver the operational cost savings which Greg started, and we should start to see the benefits of this by the fourth quarter.” GMP Securities commented that Gordon’s experience could bring a “fresh set of eyes” to the struggling miner’s challenges. “That said, despite the undoubted world class quality of [assets] Bulyanhulu and North Mara, we think Brad is a brave man to take on an ex-growth company which is beset with social and political issues,” said the broker.