Chairman Munk prepares to leave Barrick Gold

Canadian Barrick Gold’s (TSX:ABX) founder and chairman, Peter Munk, indicated Tuesday he is looking for a new leader for the board of the world’s largest gold producer, a company created 30 years ago.

In a letter to shareholders in the company’s annual report for 2012, Munk, 85, said it is "appropriate" that the company now considers a "new path to new leadership," adding he has been working with directors to find someone with the drive, ambition, global experience and contacts to lead the board.

Co-chairman John L. Thornton seems to be the chosen one, based on the letter.

“Over the past year, John and I have been working in lock-step with the entire board and our management team, focused on the singular and exclusive goal of setting the stage for Barrick’s long-term success,” Munk wrote.

“It is indeed our great fortune that John has reached a point in his spectacular career at the same time when our need for someone of his exceptional qualifications, credentials and experience also reached a decision point,” he said.

Thornton was appointed as co-chairman in June last year as part of a company reshuffle that also meant the departure of Aaron Regent as president and chief executive officer. Regent was replaced then by Jamie Sokalsky, in hopes of restoring the firm’s stock price.

A few months later, Barrick deferred $4 billion in planned spending and cut production targets as part of a larger plan to focus on returns rather than on mining more and higher gold output.

The cuts were announced on the heels of delays and a massive cost over-run at Pascua-Lama, the gold project straddling the border between Chile and Argentina, that will be one of the world’s largest gold and silver mines when built.

Image of Peter Munk via YouTube