Ex-SAS Officer Who Led Barrick's Tanzania Talks Has Left

(Bloomberg) -- One of Barrick Gold Corp.’s most senior executives, who held various high-profile roles at the company from Nevada to Tanzania, has left the company as it prepares to complete its merger with Randgold Resources Ltd.

Richard Williams served as Barrick’s chief of staff and later chief operating officer. A former commander in Britain’s Special Air Service, he was assigned in February to work full-time on securing a deal between the Tanzanian government and Barrick’s majority-owned subsidiary Acacia Mining Plc.

“Willem Jacobs will be taking on those responsibilities following the completion of the merger, in his capacity as head of Africa and Middle East,” Barrick spokesman Andy Lloyd said by text. He declined to comment further other than to confirm that Williams has left Toronto-based Barrick.

In 2017, Acacia was hit with a $190 billion tax bill by the Tanzanian government and exports of some products were banned. Thornton stepped in that year to negotiate a tentative deal before assigning Williams to handle negotiations full-time but the dispute has remained unresolved.

Jacobs wanted to complete the negotiating process and the decision to hand over the reins was mutual, Williams said by phone. It coincided with the recent shareholder vote approving the merger, he said. “The new leadership are well capable of carrying it across.”

Prior to his work in Tanzania, Williams was charged with implementing a sweeping plan by Executive Chairman John Thornton to digitize Barrick’s operations, first in Nevada and then globally. Last year he said that transition was progressing more slowly than he would have liked.

Randgold Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow and Thornton have made several management changes since the merger was announced in September under a new organizational chart that shows at least a dozen executives with direct reporting lines to Bristow.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.