JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Creating the world’s best mining company is the aim of Mark Cutifani, who takes over the reins of Anglo American as CEO from April 3.
Speaking from London in an international conference call that South African journalists could only enter late as a result of a technical glitch, Cutifani said that the iconic London- and Johannesburg-listed company, which turns 100 in four years, had “the assets, the people and the will” to be the world’s number-one diversified miner, a position BHP Billiton currently holds.
“I’m looking forward to starting with the team in just over two months,” said Cutifani, who has been appointed at a time when Anglo American is seen by some to be poised for potential ascendancy, following its significant streamlining by outgoing CEO Cynthia Carroll, who leaves at the end of April after a six-year stint.
Liberum Capital analyst Ben Davis questioned the amount of traction a turnaround story in Anglo American would gain, however, given the recent company guidance that put 2013 earnings 22% below consensus.
Davis added that the challenges arising from the “structurally defunct” Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and continuing capital cost increases at the Minas Rio iron-ore project in Brazil had no easy solutions.
South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which had initially called for a South African to be appointed to head Anglo American, backtracked and instead commended the board on its choice of Cutifani, who is only the second non-South African to head the company since its inception in 1917.
The PIC said Anglo American’s main issues centred on capital allocation, project management and operational challenges, which Cutifani had the experience to meet.
But the National Union of Mineworkers tweeted that it was “disappointed” at the announcement that the incumbent AngloGold Ashanti CEO would take up the top Anglo American job.
At AngloGold Ashanti, long-serving AngloGold Ashanti CFO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan (Venkat) and executive VP business and technical development Tony O’Neill will act as joint interim chief executives when Cutifani departs.
Australian-born Cutifani has South African clout as president of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa and as an executive council member of Business Leadership South Africa.
A Bachelor of Engineering (mining engineering first class honours) from the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, in 1982, Cutifani began his working life as a miner, from 1976 to 1982, his first pay packet totalling A$126.
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