Canada gold giant ends talks over African assets

January 8, 2013
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Gold bars are seen at the Czech Central Bank in Prague on September 5, 2011/AFP
Gold bars are seen at the Czech Central Bank in Prague on September 5, 2011/AFP
MONTREAL, Jan 8 – The world’s biggest gold producer, Canada’s Barrick Gold, announced Tuesday it had called off talks to sell some of its African assets to a state-owned Chinese firm.

Barrick “is no longer in discussions with China National Gold regarding its holding in African Barrick Gold plc,” the company said in a statement.

It did not give a reason, but the statement emphasized that the company intended only to proceed with sales of its holdings that “generate acceptable value” for the company and its stockholders.

The Canadian group had said in August it was in preliminary talks with China National Gold on the future of the African subsidiary, ABG, of which Barrick holds 73.9 percent.

At the time, Dow Jones Newswires had reported that analysts estimated the deal to be worth up to $3.9 billion.

ABG controls four gold mines in northern Tanzania and is one of the five top gold producers in Africa.

These “assets hold significant potential, and we will continue to look for ways to best realize that value for our shareholders,” said Barrick CEO Jamie Sokalsky, in the statement.

Sokalsky was named to head Barrick in June and at the same time launched initiatives to correct the course of the group, whose disappointing returns led to the departure of his predecessor, Aaron Regent.

China has been encouraging its companies to invest in overseas mines and other resources to fuel its fast-growing economy.

Beijing-based China National Gold is the nation’s biggest gold miner by output and it also mines silver, copper and other metals, it says on its website.

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