London/Johannesburg - Australian gold mining executive Mark Cutifani, a
one-time trainee miner, has been appointed chief executive of Anglo
American [JSE:AGL], taking on what analysts and investors say is one of
the toughest jobs in the business.
Cutifani, who stepped down
from his position as chief executive of South African miner AngloGold
Ashanti [JSE:ANG] on Tuesday, has been one of several outsiders expected
to be in the running for the top job at Anglo after Cynthia Carroll
quit last year.
Carroll, under pressure from investors unhappy
with the group's languishing share performance, announced in October
that she would be stepping down after more than five years at the helm.
a 54-year-old, straight-talking father of seven, was named by sources
as a frontrunner for Carroll's job at the weekend and analysts on
Tuesday welcomed the swiftness in replacing her. Cutifani takes over the
reins on April 3.
He will be only the second non-South African
to run Anglo, but sources familiar with the appointment and industry
sources say it was Cutifani's South African mining credentials -
specifically five years at the helm of Johannesburg-based AngloGold -
which were critical for Anglo. He was also named head of the country's
Chamber of Mines last year.
Anglo, for whom South Africa still
accounts for more than half forecast earnings, has battled South
Africa's belligerent unions and faces a year of restructuring at its
platinum arm, in a country where one in four people is unemployed, and
where general elections are due in 2014.
Anglo's platinum arm
Amplats, the world's largest producer of the precious metal, has been
battered by the wave of strikes that hit the South African industry last
year, as well as escalating costs and weak European demand. An overhaul
plan is expected later this month.
South Africa will not,
however, be the only item on the to-do list for Cutifani, and his lesser
experience elsewhere may worry some investors. Anglo - whose shares
have lagged peers by almost 20 percent since the start of last year -
also faces challenges in copper and iron ore, where its flagship
Brazilian project Minas Rio has faced multiple delays and escalating
While Cutifani's appointment should ease concerns in South
Africa over the country's importance for the group, analysts have said
his restructuring track record and focus on improving returns at
AngloGold also signals a willingness to consider all options, including a
long-awaited carve-out of some operations.
As head of AngloGold,
a miner created from Anglo American's gold assets, investors have
welcomed his focus on improving returns, and he has never ruled out a
potential spin-off of the miner's South African operations.
Cutifani ran AngloGold from 2007, when he was plucked from Canadian mining group Inco, now part of Brazil's Vale .
said that until Cutifani takes over its chief financial officer and
technical development head will act as interim chief executives.
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