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A view of the construction at Barrick Gold's gold processing plant at the Pacua-Lama mine in Argentina, in this January 2, 2012 handout photo.

Handout/Reuters/Barrick

Barrick Gold Corp. is singlehandedly reviving the bonus pool for mining bankers, launching a $3-billion (U.S.) stock sale to shore up its balance sheet.

Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays and GMP Securities are leading the offering. Based on the numbers in the press release, there is about $100-million of fees flowing to bankers and lawyers.

The offering is one of the largest in Canadian history, eclipsing even the large stock sales done by Canadian banks during the financial crisis. About the only deal that really compares is also from Barrick, as the company sold $3-billion of stock in 2009 when it had to take out gold prices hedges that investors no longer liked.

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The fees are not the only cost to Barrick shareholders. In this offering, the discount is about 5 per cent below the market price, reflecting the risk that the banks are taking in trying to move such a large block of stock in a company that has been underperforming.

The fact that Barrick Gold keeps setting records for selling stock and diluting investors won't be lost on shareholders.

The last time Barrick raised $3-billion, it was at twice the price. Barrick sold the stock then at $38.95 a share. In that offering, RBC, Morgan Stanley & Co., JPMorgan Securities and Scotia Capital were the lead banks.

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