Barrick Gold Corp. chief executive Mark Bristow says he tried to get together with Ian Telfer in 2017 to talk about potential deals, but the Goldcorp Inc. chairman refused to even meet with him.
Barrick has tabled a US$17.8-billion hostile, all-share takeover offer for Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp. – and as part of its campaign, it is trying to persuade Newmont shareholders that their company’s proposed US$10-billion takeover of Goldcorp is a bad idea.
In response, Newmont this week published an e-mail sent to Goldcorp by Mr. Bristow in 2017 when he was CEO of Randgold Resources Ltd. “You have assembled a strong portfolio of assets located in world class districts," Mr. Bristow wrote, while inviting Mr. Telfer to talk about “options that might be worthwhile exploring together."
The revelation that Mr. Bristow praised Goldcorp’s portfolio came as a surprise to those who have listened to him disparage the Vancouver-based miner’s assets as “second tier.” But Mr. Bristow said in an interview the e-mail between him and Mr. Telfer doesn’t paint the full picture.
“How stupid was that?” he said of Newmont’s decision to make the e-mail public, without including all of the context.
Mr. Bristow says the real reason he sent the e-mail to Mr. Telfer is because he recognized that Goldcorp was “in deep trouble.” He said he thought Randgold might be able to "reinvigorate” Goldcorp’s mines.
But the advances went nowhere. “I never met Telfer because he refused to meet me,” he said. “Even my advisers were banned from [Goldcorp CEO David] Garofalo’s office.”
A source familiar with Goldcorp’s thinking said Mr. Telfer chose not to engage with Mr. Bristow because he feared that a tie-up with Randgold, whose operations were in Africa, would expose Goldcorp to heightened political risk. Barrick bought Randgold last year and Mr. Bristow took over the top job at the merged company.
Both Mr. Telfer and Mr. Garofalo declined to comment.
Goldcorp wasn’t the only major gold mining company that Mr. Bristow attempted to cut a deal with in 2017.
Earlier in the week, Newmont’s CEO Gary Goldberg told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Bristow shopped his company “to anyone who would listen two years ago." He said Mr. Bristow approached Newmont about a deal, but the Colorado mining company shot him down.
Mr. Bristow indicated that he had no regrets over his decision to sell Randgold to Barrick for US$6-billion.
“I was clearly right [in selling to Barrick] because look at where the Goldcorp assets are today,” he said in the interview with The Globe. “Ian Telfer was forced to sell his company in a desperate situation.”
In January, Goldcorp agreed to sell to Newmont for US$10-billion, with its stock near a multiyear low.
In an interview with The Globe in January, Mr. Telfer justified the sale, saying Goldcorp was at risk of being left behind with the industry in the midst of rapid fire consolidation.
Goldcorp could still conceivably continue as a stand-alone company, if Barrick is successful in its pursuit of Newmont.