London - Anglo American [JSE:AGL] CEO Cynthia Carroll
stepped down on Friday, after more than five years at the helm but also after
months of pressure from some shareholders over the share performance and the
miner’s continued dependence on troubled South Africa.
A geologist by training, Carroll became the first non-South
African, the first woman and the first outsider to take the top job at Anglo
when she became CEO in 2007.
She said in a statement she felt the time was right to hand
over to a successor as she entered her seventh year at the helm.
Her departure was not unexpected.
Recent labour woes - compounded by nagging concerns over its
Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil and operational trouble in Chilean copper
- have revived long-standing worries among some investors over Anglo’s exposure
to Southern Africa, the success of its acquisitions and, ultimately, a share
price that has lagged peers.
Despite billions in cost cuts and efforts to streamline what
was still in 2007 a sprawling consortium, analysts at Macquarie said this week
that on a US dollar market capitalisation basis, Anglo has lost one-third of
its value since Carroll became CEO. It is now worth some $25bn less.
The rest of the peer group are worth at least the same as
they were at the start of 2007, when she took over.
Violent strikes and labour troubles across the South African
mining sector spread to Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS], the world’s top producer of
the precious metal, last month, just before the end of the current reporting
Weeks later, they hit Anglo’s Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] unit, which
alone accounted for almost half the group’s operating profit in the first half.
Kumba’s Sishen mine has since begun to ramp up operations,
but Amplats workers have not yet returned to Amplats’ Rustenburg, Union and
Amandelbult mining operations, which include some of Amplats’ most labour
intensive shafts, and those that have suffered deepest compression in margins