A leading investor in gold mining shares has unleashed a blistering attack on management of publicly-traded gold companies, presenting a strong argument for the advantages of purchasing gold bullion over equities in the sector.
Paulson and Company partner Marcelo Kim complained that shareholder returns from gold mining companies “have been dreadful,” laying blame on overcompensated executives whose interests are not aligned with shareholders. Kim’s presentation at the annual Denver Gold Forum, showed that gold bullion has vastly outperformed gold shares: the price of gold is up 20 percent since 2010, while shares of the top 13 gold producers are off 65 percent and the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners Exchange Traded Fund is down 45 percent. During that period, Kim stated, CEOs of the 13 companies have received $550 million in pay.
The executives, he argued, destroyed billions in value by overpaying for acquisitions and allowing cost overruns in building new mines. As a result, Kim maintained, “investors have been taken for a ride.”
Shareholders, Kim said, are at fault for rubber stamping mergers, executive compensation and board appointments.
“The days of CEOs getting rich while shareholders lose has got to end,” billionaire investor John Paulson told Bloomberg News. “Management must be accountable.”
Paulsen is organizing a “shareholder’s gold council” of major investors to demand greater representation on boards, more influence over management decisions, and gain the clout to force out poorly performing CEOs.
“If we don’t do anything to change, then, as investors, we will continually be disappointed with shareholder returns and the industry will slowly dig itself into a hole of irrelevance and oblivion.” Kim said.