Reports that miner BHP has approached Anglo American’s chief executive to sound him out as Andrew Mackenzie’s successor signals that the end of the BHP chief’s six-year tenure is now close.
Bloomberg has reported that BHP has contacted Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani twice this year but so far has been rejected. Cutifani, an Australian, has been the chief executive of Anglo since 2013 and is credited with a massive turnaround of a group that was in crisis when he was appointed.
BHP doesn’t comment on its succession planning but it has become increasingly apparent that the process – which is a long-term and continuous one – has been intensifying this year.
Mackenzie himself has stonewalled questions relating to his retirement but, having presided over a dramatic reshaping of BHP’s portfolio, balance sheet and cost base, and implemented stringent financial and operational disciplines, the big decisions that confronted the group when he replaced Marius Kloppers in 2013 have all been taken and bedded in.
It isn’t surprising that BHP would approach Cutifani but it would be surprising if it hadn’t also sounded out other senior mining executives in what is, at the big end of mining, a rather small pool of executives who would be regarded as capable of leading the world’s largest and most diversified of resource companies.