Anglo-American closes in on Cutifani as next chief executive

Michael Bow
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THE world’s largest platinum miner Anglo American is on the verge of appointing the head of gold miner AngloGold Ashanti Mark Cutifani as its new chief executive.

It is understood Cutifani, who has led South African AngloGold since 2007, is leading a pack of candidates to the fill the role left vacant after current chief executive Cynthia Carroll announced she was quitting the firm in October after five years at the helm.

“He is definitely one of the leading candidates,” a source said. “A lot things still need to happen but we are getting close.”

Carroll is due to stay on during the transition period as the new chief executive takes over. An announcement is expected in mid-January on the appointment but maybe made sooner.

She stepped down after shareholder frustration over Anglo’s lagging share price and dependence on its South Africa business. Anglo American has recently completed a wholesale review of its platinum business, and is due to report the findings by the end of this month.

AngloGold Ashanti’s chief executive Mark Cutifani may be Australian by birth but it is South Africa that has left its indelible mark on his professional career.

The charismatic 53 year-old father of seven is a hands-on miner with vast knowledge of the mining industry, but his experience leading one of South Africa largest gold producers should leave him particularly well placed to tackle the difficulties Anglo-American has experienced with union unrest at its platinum mines in the country.

Cutifani took the reins at AngloGold Ashanti in 2007 on the back of a 30-year career in the business. He began working in underground coal mining in 1976, rising to become a manager of underground coal operations at CRA, which is now Rio Tinto.

He moved into the gold mining sector in 1988, graduating through a variety of companies, including Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines , WMC, and Normandy Mining, before eventually joining Vale Inco, now part of Brazil's Vale, as vice president of its Canadian and UK operations in March 2003. He was subsequently headhunted to run AngloGold, which itself was spun out of Anglo American’s gold mining operations, in 2007 from Inco.

At AngloGold, Cutifani has made himself a prominent figure on the South African mining scene, and is currently head of the country’s Chamber of Mines. Should he be hired at Anglo-American, Cutifani would be only the second non-South African and only the second outsider to head the group after Cynthia Carroll.

His South African credentials could hold him in good stead if he does eventually lead the firm. More than half of Anglo’s forecast earnings come from its mines in South Africa, a fact which will no doubt taken into account when the Anglo-American board makes its decision.