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John Thornton, the executive chairman of Barrick Gold Corp., sold US$50-million worth of the company’s stock over the last three trading days, erasing half of his stake in the company.

The sale of 2,632,153 shares reverses a move he made in late 2018. As Barrick and Randgold Resources Ltd. were promoting their proposed merger to investors, Mr. Thornton purchased 2,271,029 Barrick shares at about US$11.10 apiece. The deal was consummated later in the year.

Mr. Thornton’s sales this week were made at prices between US$18.80 and US$19.56, according to securities filings.

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Barrick said late Wednesday in a brief statement that the sale was made “due to personal portfolio considerations.” The company said Mr. Thornton bought the stock using his personal funds, and the shares were not subject to holding restrictions, unlike some of the stock the company has delivered to him as compensation.

“Mr. Thornton confirmed that he would continue to retain and seek to build on what remains a meaningful equity stake in Barrick and that he looks forward to participating in the value created by the many exciting long-term growth opportunities being realized by Barrick’s strong management team,” the company said. He now holds 2,642,127 shares, including stock held by various family trusts.

Mr. Thornton, former president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., joined the Barrick board as co-chairman in 2012 and became executive chairman in 2014. For many years, the company operated without a CEO, and Barrick compensated Mr. Thornton as its top executive. The Randgold merger allowed Barrick to appoint that company’s CEO, Mark Bristow, as its own.

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