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(Photograph by Sean Sprague for Report on Business Magazine)
(Photograph by Sean Sprague for Report on Business Magazine)

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Goldcorp's big shoes Add to ...

Jeannes also appears to be interested in buying gold explorer Osisko Mining Corp., owner of the Malartic gold deposit in Quebec, after overseeing Goldcorp's decision to buy just under 13 per cent of its shares last summer. Analysts believe it's only a matter of time before Goldcorp takes over the entire company.

A significant challenge for Jeannes is unloading assets that no longer fit with Goldcorp's high-growth, low-cost strategy, while not throwing away opportunities for growth down the road. With this balancing act in mind, Goldcorp made a deal in May to sell its Escobal silver deposit in Guatemala to a new company called Tahoe Resources Inc. As part of the $505-million (U.S.) deal, Goldcorp will receive a 40 per cent stake in Tahoe. Given the web of connections in Jeannes's career, it seems unsurprising that Tahoe is the creation of McArthur, his former boss.

Jeannes then made a near copycat sale in early June, selling the company's San Dimas gold-silver deposit in Mexico to explorer Mala Noche Resources for about $500-million, and taking a 30 per cent stake in the Vancouver-based explorer. The deal also marks the comeback of former Iamgold Corp. CEO Joseph Conway, who becomes Mala Noche's CEO. (During the M&A flurry earlier this decade, it was Conway's Iamgold that tried to take over Telfer's Wheaton River, before it merged with Goldcorp.) It's these types of strategic deals, not to mention that rising gold price, that have given many analysts the confidence to reinforce and, in some cases, upgrade Goldcorp's stock in recent months. While Jeannes is not a flamboyant dealmaker like his predecessors, that distinction could be the very thing they like about the company in 2010.

"Chuck is the right man for the job at the right time," says Ted Hirst, co-head of global investment banking at Canaccord Genuity, which has been an adviser to Goldcorp for the past several years. "He will take Goldcorp to the next level, with an approach that is both focused and reflective of his knowledge of the industry, something he has built over the years."

Others are attracted to Jeannes's "conservative, small-company mentality"-the description of Salman Partners analyst Haytham Hodaly. "It allows him to only look at accretive acquisitions rather than grow for the sake of growing."

Telfer, Goldcorp's CEO before the Glamis merger, says Jeannes is better at the job than he ever was. "He works to learn about everything in the company to a much greater extent than I ever would have." Telfer, now Goldcorp's chairman, also insists that he has a hands-off attitude, despite his long history of running gold companies. "I don't force decisions on him. I don't try to change his mind. As far as running the company, I am more than happy to leave it to him."

Both Jeannes and Telfer acknowledge separately that their relationship works largely because of their different backgrounds-Telfer as the company-builder and Jeannes as the day-to-day administration and operations guy. "I'm not a character, I'm pretty boring," Jeannes declares. "I think there's a difference between someone who, like Ian, has built companies his whole life. He has taken ideas and turned them into reality...I love the idea of finding ways to incrementally change our business."

Outside the office, the two share a passion for country music, in particular the duo Brooks & Dunn, now on its farewell tour after 20 years together. The band, one of the most successful duos in music history, will also go down as one of the few acts to actually go out on top-perhaps a study for Telfer and Jeannes as they try to put Goldcorp in the No. 1 spot.

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