Carroll had to go - shareholders

2012-10-26 11:48

London - Anglo American [JSE:AGL] CEO Cynthia Carroll stepped down on Friday after more than five years in the job, under increased pressure from investors over the miner’s lagging share price and 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.

Brushing aside suggestions she was pressured to leave, Carroll and chairperson John Parker, her long-standing supporter, said the decision was her own, as she entered a seventh year in a “very gruelling and demanding role”.

Carroll’s efforts to streamline what was a sprawling conglomerate, to cut billions in costs and to shift Anglo’s centre of gravity away from South Africa initially won support.

But her relationship with investors became more troubled after acquisitions like the Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil, an early bid to diversify Anglo’s portfolio, became mired in cost overruns and delays.

Anglo has yet to give a final cost estimate for the project but analysts say they could rise to $8bn from current figures of $5.8bn.

“Institutional pressure has been building for some time to replace Cynthia, so the news will be welcomed,” one of Anglo’s 15 largest shareholders said.

“Ultimately, running Anglo is one of the toughest jobs around and, although Cynthia made a good start as CEO, the feeling is the company has gone backwards in the last two to three years.”

Other investors also pointed to a mixed record at the top.

“Her strategic moves didn’t always hit the mark. The acquisition of Minas Rio, promptly followed by a dividend cut, was a particular low point,” another of Anglo’s 15 biggest investors said.

Crippling strikes in platinum and iron ore mines in South Africa over the last weeks have revived long-standing worries over Anglo’s exposure to the country, aggravating concerns about a share price that has underperformed its peers.

Despite cost cuts, analysts at Macquarie say that under Carroll, Anglo has lost one-third of its value on a US dollar market capitalisation basis and is now worth $25bn less.

Other major miners are worth at least the same as they were at the start of 2007.

So far this year, Anglo stock has lagged the sector by almost 20%. Shares jumped on news of Carroll’s departure and at 08:25 GMT were up 1.6% at 1887.5 pence, while the European basic resources index was down 0.7%. On the JSE Anglo shares opened 2.3% higher to R268.50.

Who's next?

The board said it would not rush to pick a successor for Carroll and that the 55-year-old would stay in place until a replacement was appointed, which could take months.

“For whoever comes in, the challenge of Minas Rio and the challenge of restructuring the platinum industry in South Africa doesn’t go away,” said analyst Des Kilalea at RBC in London. “To some extent, it’s probably the most difficult mining company to manage at the moment.”

Industry analysts, industry sources and investors point to at least two likely successors for Carroll - Brazilian Alex Vanselow, the former chief financial officer of BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL] and South African-born Mick Davis, the outgoing chief executive of Xstrata.

Parker - in a reference to a storm over Davis’ pay, one of the highest on Britain’s FTSE - said Anglo could not afford him.

The biggest immediate challenge for Carroll’s successor is likely to be South Africa, where strikes have spread to Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS], the world’s top producer of the precious metal. The unrest has revived talk of a split or a cut in Anglo’s stake in Amplats - something Carroll opposed.

Strikes also hit Anglo’s Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] unit, which alone accounted for almost half the group’s operating profit in the first half of the year.

Kumba’s Sishen mine has begun to ramp back up, but Amplats workers have not yet returned to the Rustenburg, Union and Amandelbult operations, which include some of its most labour intensive shafts, and those that have suffered deepest margin compression since 2008.


  • larry.piggott1 - 2012-10-26 12:02

    Its a pity we dont have that option with some of the clowns running this place.

  • hjkavdkah - 2012-10-26 12:22

    Well lets put Malema in as CEO he is qualified isn't he.

  • nomsa.mlambo.395 - 2012-10-26 12:34

    Thanks Cynthia for holding the fort and showing that given the opportunity women can equally run giants the way they raise them as families. Well done. Nomsa

      nrgx.nrg - 2012-10-26 13:58

      and lose $25 billion!

      FUNKMASTERFLEX.AKA.BAIN - 2012-10-26 18:43

      She was not the best ceo compared to other mining companies and the results under her tenure show this

      susanna.smit.7 - 2012-10-29 20:53

      Thank you for forcing safety regulations on these wild cat mine managers. Number of miner deaths halved, which is worth more than $25 billion!

      susanna.smit.7 - 2012-10-29 20:56

      Thank you for forcing safety regulations on these wild cat mine managers. Number of miner deaths halved, which did not show under other CEO's tenures.

  • jerry.medina.756 - 2012-10-26 12:42

    So the guys mine from South Africa and put the center of gravity in London? That is just what is wrong with the so called foreign investors. Institute slave labor, pollute the environment and take money to their countries.

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-26 13:59

      The name Anglo American might be a clue that it is a global company with interests all over the world. Zimbabwe might be closer to slave labour getting paid R2 000 p/m for working in the mines.

      nrgx.nrg - 2012-10-26 13:59

      You mean kind of like what the government is doing? Steal the tax money and invest in off shore accounts!

  • Blixum - 2012-10-27 11:39

    Studied at SKIDmore Colledge. How unfortunate.

  • lydia.benkenstein - 2012-12-05 10:35

    Scoring points with the big boys, lady.

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