After more than a week of tough talk firing back and forth, the leaders of the two biggest gold producers are finally coming to the table.
Newmont Mining Corp. Chief Executive Officer Gary Goldberg said he will be meeting with Barrick Gold Corp.’s Mark Bristow later Tuesday in New York to talk through their differences. However, he said in a Bloomberg TV interview that he won’t be discussing Barrick’s bid for his company, but rather Newmont’s proposal for a joint venture around the two companies’ assets in Nevada.
Goldberg said he heard from Bristow earlier and that “I’m looking forward to catching up with him later today here in New York. This will be the discussion on the joint venture with what we proposed yesterday.’’
Barrick spokeswoman Kathy du Plessis didn’t immediately have a comment.
In the past week, leaders at the two companies have disparaged their counterparts as inept managers who have squandered assets and destroyed shareholder value. And that’s before a formal offer is even on the table.
At stake is a potential $17.8 billion deal that would create the world’s largest gold producer. Newmont kicked off the fighting talk, with Goldberg calling Barrick’s proposal to buy the company “desperate and bizarre” even before Barrick publicly presented its terms on February 25. Bristow responded in kind, saying he could run Newmont’s assets better than Goldberg does.
The bid by Toronto-based Barrick includes no premium. Newmont’s board rejected the offer on Monday, saying its shareholders would be better off completing a pending purchase of Goldcorp Inc. But Goldberg also offered a concession, saying his company would be willing to negotiate a friendly joint venture with Barrick at their Nevada operations that would give Barrick the greater share — in addition to pushing forward with the Goldcorp deal.
Barrick has said it is keen to talk as well. But how such negotiations could ever be friendly is hard to imagine, given the company’s history and comments made over the past week.