African Barrick soars as parent firm’s CEO goes

City A.M. Reporter
BARRICK Gold has ousted its chief executive Aaron Regent and promoted chief financial officer Jamie Sokalsky to the top job, as its founder admitted that its recent performance had been “disappointing”.

Shares in Barrick’s London-listed subsidiary, African Barrick Gold, shot up 14.5 per cent yesterday on the news, but Barrick’s Toronto-listed shares slid almost five per cent.

ABG, which is 74 per cent-owned by Barrick, said its parent would nominate a replacement to its board after Aaron Regent’s departure. Regent was non-executive chairman of ABG.

“We are fully committed to maximising shareholder value, but have been disappointed with our share price performance,” said founder Peter Munk.

“Our board has every confidence in Jamie’s experience and commitment to take our company forward.”

Barrick’s shares have been hit hard in the aftermath of its C$7.3bn (£4.6bn) takeover of Equinox Minerals in April 2011.

The deal boosted the company’s exposure to the cyclical copper market without adding gold assets. Some shareholders saw that as a misstep.

“It could be that they’re looking for a fall guy after the disastrous Equinox acquisition, which we believe they overpaid for by about 50 per cent,” said George Topping, a mining analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, an investment banking and brokerage firm in Toronto.

The Lumwana copper mine in Zambia, acquired as part of the Equinox takeover, has struggled with high costs and operational hiccups.