UPDATE 2-Barrick Gold to sell two mines, reduce debt by $3 bln

miércoles 18 de febrero de 2015 21:36 GYT

(Recasts with details on strategy, operational results)

Feb 18 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp said on Wednesday it will sell its Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea and its Cowal mine in Australia to help reduce net debt by at least $3 billion by year-end, giving investors a long-awaited glimpse into its strategy.

Barrick, the world's biggest gold producer, also said it was reducing the size of its Toronto head office by close to half from 260 positions in 2014 to 140 in 2015, so lowering its administration costs.

Describing its strategy as going "back to the future," Barrick said it was returning to its roots of being lean, nimble and entrepreneurial to an environment where operational heads had greater autonomy and responsibility.

The announcement, which included details on how 35 high-level employees will be compensated, is the most detailed glimpse yet into Barrick Executive Chairman John Thornton's plans for the company.

Investors and analysts have complained that Thornton, who took over from Barrick founder Peter Munk in April, has not made clear his plans for the miner.

In the past 10 months, several key positions at Barrick, including the chief executive and the miner's corporate development team, have been eliminated.

Other than through asset sales, Barrick will reduce its debt through the leaner, decentralized operating model and joint ventures or strategic partnerships.

Barrick also said it will defer, cancel or sell projects that do not return at least 15 percent on invested capital.   Continuación...