TORONTO — Barrick Gold Corp. shares fell 2.4 per cent Friday after it confirmed reports that it has "reviewed the opportunity" to merge with rival Newmont Mining Corp.
The Toronto-based gold miner said in a brief statement that it has considered an all-share, zero-premium transaction with Colorado-based Newmont — a move that would combine two of the world's largest gold producers.
But Barrick also said it has made no decision on a potential Newmont merger.
A spokesman for Newmont said Friday afternoon after markets closed that it's aware of Barrick's statement but "we do not intend to speculate on Barrick's interest or motivation."
Newmont was up three per cent at US$36.48 at the end of the trading day on the New York Stock Exchange.
The possibility of a deal with Newmont comes less than two months after Barrick completed its merger with Randgold Resources that saw Randgold founder Mark Bristow become chief executive of the combined company.
Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said that the report sheds light on the overall gold sector.
"Barrick's last deal already indicated management confidence in the sector was improving and companies were seeing value out there," Cieszynski wrote in a commentary.
"The combination of today's Barrick-Newmont rumour and recent gains in the gold price may put pressure on other managements to go shopping before others scoop up prized assets or a rising gold price pushes up valuations."
Barrick shares were worth about C$14.30 when it announced the Randgold deal on Sept. 24 but have since risen about 22 per cent, outpacing the S&P/TSX composite index over the same period.
Shares of Newmont — a long-time rival and occasional partner with Barrick — have risen 17 per cent since it announced on Jan. 14 that it has a friendly deal to acquire Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. for US$10 billion in stock and cash.
The Newmont-Goldcorp deal hasn't closed but the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has given permission for Goldcorp to hold a necessary meeting of shareholders on April 4.
Newmont spokesman Omar Jabara said in an email that the proposed combination "represents an unparalleled opportunity to create value for our shareholders and deliver industry-leading returns for decades to come."
At the close on Friday, Barrick shares were down 42 cents at C$17.13 and Goldcorp was down 61 cents or four per cent at $14.60 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Companies in this story: (TSX:ABX, TSX:G)
The Canadian Press