Miner Barrick to sell out of Russian gold venture
Chairman and founder of Barrick Gold Peter Munk speaks at the Barrick Gold Annual General Meeting in Toronto, April 29, 2009. Reuters

Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX), the world's largest gold miner, said Thursday it sold its 20.4 percent stake in Russia's Highland Gold Mining Ltd. (London: HGM) for $130 million as it seeks to unload non-core business.

Toronto-based Barrick sold 66.2 million shares of Barrick for 120 pence ($1.96) per share after deciding that Highland was non-core to its business operations and strategy in February. The price was below Highland's Wednesday closing value of 131.5 pence per share. Buyers included both new and existing institutional investors.

Barrick originally paid 235 pence per share for a 10 percent interest in Highland in October 2003, later raising its stake to 34 percent in 2006. Its holdings fell to 20.4 percent in 2007 after Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought a 40 percent stake in Highland for $400 million.

HSBC Bank Plc was Barrick's adviser and an underwriter in the sale. Numis Securities Ltd. and Troika Dialog Ltd. were underwriters.

In February, Barrick reported fourth quarter earnings of $1.17 per share, up from $1.02 per share in the previous year. Profit was down to $959 million from $961 million.

Shares of Barrick were down 20 cents to $39.77 in late Thursday afternoon trading. Highland was down 11.26 British pounds to 120.24 pounds at Thursday's close.