Edging up output year-on-year, Agnico Eagle has grown from revenue of $50m per annum to $50m per week under CEO Sean Boyd
“I made the mistake of saying I like lemon meringue pie”
Sean Boyd’s predecessor at Agnico, Paul Penna, didn’t retire until he was 75
Measured. Conservative. Straight-shooter Sean Boyd has built Agnico Eagle into a darling of the Canadian gold market by stepping over the trip wires that have caught so many rivals.
The son of a policeman, Agnico's CEO began his career as a paper boy for The Globe & Mail. After studying commerce in Toronto he joined accountancy Clarkson Gordon, auditing Agnico, a cobalt miner in Quebec led by penny stock salesman Paul Penna. It became Boyd's biggest file.
“He didn't look like the CEO, he could have been the janitor,” Boyd tells The Northern Miner. “I made the mistake of saying I like lemon meringue pie; the next day he was in with 10 pies.”
Boyd joined as comptroller, rising to treasurer, then finance director, in 1998 taking over as CEO. The group had revenue of $50m. “We were making no money, we actually had no money.” 21 years on and it generates $50m a week.
Boyd has pushed north into the Arctic, engineering high-grade mines at minus 50 degrees centigrade way off the electrical grid, building a competitive advantage in northern Canada and Finland. “The
future's in Nunavik,” he tells BNN.
Cool-headed, he has also avoided the distractions of hedging, big-ticket deals or debt. “We don't get caught up in the idea that it is a race to be the biggest... If you’ve got 30 or 40 mines spread out across the world, I don’t know how you manage that.”
If there is one criticism of Agnico, its rolling pipeline of new mines comes at a cost, sucking up capital. Margins are high and production expands, but free cash flow always seems to be “on the visible horizon”, to quote one bank. “We allocate capital consistently over time,” says Boyd. “That's how you keep good people.”
Other CEOs describe Boyd, who sits on the board of the World Gold Council, as open and co-operative, more likely to settle a lawsuit over lunch than through lawyers. “They were extremely reasonable,” one counterpart says.
After more than two decades, is time now up? Passionate about cycling, Boyd, 59, is known for endurance: he routinely does 50km bike rides from his house outside Toronto. “If you're a head-hunter, don't call us. We've got a lineup of people coming into each box.”