VENTURES AFRICA – Mark Cutifani, current head of AngloGold Ashanti, may be set to become the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Anglo American as reports circulate that the company plans to appoint him imminently.
The decision to appoint Cutifani – which would make the Australian born head of AngloGold become the second ever non-South African leader of Anglo American – is close to finalisation, according to sources familiar with the situation, reports Reuters.
Should the appointment go ahead, an announcement can be expected by mid-January if not sooner, said the sources.
“There are other people still in the running, but (Cutifani) is further down the line,” one of the sources is reported as saying, adding: “Everyone is hopeful, but with a CEO leaving his current job it is complicated.”
Cutifani was appointed leader of Anglo American’s gold unit – AngloGold Ashanti – in 2007, and has built up a substantial reputation in South Africa through his leadership and the results obtained under his direction. However, Cutifani has restricted experience in other Anglo American locations, such as Brazil – as such there has been speculation as to whether he would be a serious contender for the top position.
Anglo American’s most recent CEO Cynthia Carroll announced her intended resignation at the end of October following seven years of service at the head of the miner. Although the Board accepted her decision to step down, she agreed to remain as acting Chief Executive until such time as the company finds a suitable replacement.
Over the past year of her leadership, Carroll has come under increasing pressure from investors in particular, due to declining share prices and a perceived focus solely on South African operations – despite the CEO having achieving record results in previous years.
However, Carroll also had to contend with a number of challenges over the past year, including steering the company through the prolonged miners’ strikes that took place across South Africa, causing Anglo American significant losses resultant to halts to output.
Of note, Anglo American unit Kumba Iron Ore -Africa’s largest iron ore plant- saw a stop to production in October as workers downed tools. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) also recorded losses in excess of 700 million rand ($79.5 million), prompting the company to fire 12,000 striking workers.
Whoever becomes the next CEO of the global miner will have to turn the company’s fortunes around in South Africa as the industry attempts to recover from the spate of strikes; while the new head will be wise to also show progress on other international fronts – particularly in the development of Anglo American’s Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil – in order to satisfy stake holders.