Saturday, May 25, 2013

Peter Munk's Midas touch is but a fading memory

You remember Mr. Munk. The guy who built Clairtone into an international brand and then bailed, leaving the shareholders holding the bag as the company went tits-up.

Munk had a number of resurrections and finally hit a homer with Barrick Gold, now the worlds biggest gold producer.

Also the world's most indebted gold producer. It has invested sums in its Pascua Lama mine in South America that are the equivalent of half the market cap of the company.

Speaking of market cap, it's about half of where it was a year ago.

And twice what it will be a year from now.

The pesky natives down there in South America just keep throwing up one roadblock after another. The latest setback was a $16 million fine levied on the company by the government of Chile, normally considered miner friendly.

You know you're in trouble when the friendlies are screwing you over.

Here on the home front Munk hasn't helped himself by underwriting foolishness like the "Munk Debates." These are the folks, loosely affiliated with the Munk Centre for Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, who bring in "public intellectuals" for public debates.

Oddly enough, Toronto is so desperate to be seen as a "world-class city" that they can actually sell out Roy Thompson Hall for these debates.

When they had a debate about God, they hired in Tony Blair to speak for God.

Next week they've got Newt Gingrich coming in.

That's right; the Newtster. Public intellectual.

Stop laughing; tickets are sold out!

The joke is obviously on Toronto... and on Peter Munk.

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