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Aaron Regent, former president and CEO of Barrick Gold is seen in this file photo.PETER JONES/Reuters

Barrick Gold Corp.'s former chief executive, Aaron Regent, has joined Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc.'s board, as the world's biggest fertilizer producer attempts to take over its German rival.

Mr. Regent, who was ousted as Barrick's CEO in 2012, is building his own mining company called Magris Resources, a private company named after his daughters.

His appointment, effective immediately, comes two months after Potash Corp.'s $8.7-billion (U.S.) bid for Germany's K+S AG became public.

K+S has rebuffed the informal offer, saying it undervalues its potash project in Saskatchewan and citing concerns that Potash Corp. will slash jobs and production.

The German miner, the world's biggest salt producer and Europe's main potash supplier, has so far refused to meet with Potash Corp.

The Potash Corp. offer represents one of the largest deals in the mining industry in years. Since commodity prices started declining in 2011, M&A activity in the mining sector has been sparse. Companies, including Barrick, have sought to sell non-core mines and operations to strengthen their balance sheets.

Since leaving Barrick, Mr. Regent has been actively hunting for acquisitions for Magris. He bought a niobium mine a year ago and has been invited to look at multiple non-precious operations. Potash, a crop nutrient, will be a new commodity for Mr. Regent.

However, he is no stranger to big mining battles. He served as president of Falconbridge, one of Canada's largest nickel producers, before it was taken over by the now-defunct mining powerhouse Xstrata, which was eventually taken over by Glencore Plc.

Potash Corp. cited Mr. Regent's "extensive experience in the global mining industry" as the reason for his appointment.

Mr. Regent served as Barrick's chief executive when the gold miner made its ill-timed acquisition of an African copper company. That purchase contributed to Barrick's debt woes, problems that surfaced as gold prices dropped.

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