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Rome — And then there were three. The surprise resignation Friday of Cynthia Carroll, the Alcan-trained CEO of global mining group Anglo American PLC, comes as a blow to female corporate advancement.
Ms. Carroll, 55, was one of only the four women CEOs among FTSE-100 companies. She was the first woman to take the top job at Anglo when she joined the company in 2007, as well as the first non-South African and the first non-insider. Founded in Johannesburg in 1917 by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, Anglo had always picked its bosses from its own ranks.
Her departure, however, does not come as a blow to shareholder advancement. Anglo shares rose more almost 3 per cent Friday morning on the news that the search has begun for a new CEO. Ms. Carroll will not leave the company until her replacement is named, likely some time in the first half of 2013.
Ms. Carroll, an American who graduated from Skidmore College with a geology degree, worked for Alcan in Montreal from 1989 until she joined Anglo in March, 2007. Her last job at Alcan was head of its primary metals group, one of aluminium maker’s top jobs.
Her honeymoon at Anglo was exceedingly short. A year after she joined, the financial crisis hit, followed by a global slowdown and recessions in some of Anglo’s biggest markets, including Europe and the United States. More recently, Anglo found itself in a legal battle with Codelco, Chile’s state-owned miner, and got swept up in the wildcat mining strikes in South Africa that turned violent, curtailed production and damaged the country’s financial stability. Anglo-controlled Anglo Platinum, the world biggest platinum producer, dismissed 12,000 illegally striking workers earlier this month, after they refused to return to work.
Under Ms. Carroll, Anglo has been a market underperformer. All mining companies got clobbered in the financial crisis and all recovered rather well. But Anglo’s recovery was slower than most and the company’s shares have deteriorated badly since the start 2011. In the last five years, the shares have lost more than 40 per cent. Since Ms. Carroll became CEO Anglo’s market value has fallen by about £12-billion.
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