Anglo American’s CEO Steps Down

on Oct 26, 2012

On October 26, the Financial Times reported that Cynthia Carroll, the chief executive of Anglo American Plc (LON:AAL), has resigned from her post after almost six years in the job. There has been speculation that Ms Carroll, the first non-South African and first female CEO of Anglo Mining, was under investor pressure with Anglo Mining struggling with several issues including a dispute with the Chilean state mining company Codelco, and a series of wildcat strikes in South Africa.

**Cynthia Carroll Resigns as Anglo American CEO**
In a company press release, Ms Carroll said that it was “a very difficult decision to leave”, adding that she felt it was the right time “to hand over to a successor who can build further on the strong foundations we have created.” She, however, will remain in her role until a new CEO can be appointed. In addition to resigning as Anglo American’s CEO, Ms Carroll will also relinquish her roles as a chairman of Anglo Platinum and of De Beers.

Ms Carroll’s decision to step down stirred up mixed reactions among investors, but sent the company’s shares up three percent in morning trading in London. The FT quotes one top investor in the mining group as saying that while investors had always rated her, “the old male guard have never really taken to her,” adding that the mining strikes in South Africa and the legal battle with Codelco were “good excuses to get rid of her.”

**Anglo American’s Woes**
!m[Hunt For Cynthia Carroll’s Successor Already Underway ](/uploads/story/652/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)Anglo American’s market capitalisation has dropped by more than 25 percent since 2007, when Ms Carroll took office, whereas in 2012, the company plunged 22 percent in London trading. Bloomberg reports that Anglo American has been troubled by cost overruns at the Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil and by a legal battle with Codelco in Chile. And while the dispute over whether Anglo American could block Codelco from exercising an option to buy half of Anglo American’s Chilean unit was settled in August by means of a face-saving deal giving Codelco a minority stake at a discount, Anglo American was drawn into the South African labour unrest. The FT reports that Standard & Poor’s recently revised its outlook on Anglo American to negative on account of the company’s greater exposure to South Africa than peers such as Xstrata (LON:XTA).

**Xstrata’s Mick Davis Rumoured as a Potential Replacement**
In a company press release, Anglo American said that the hunt for Ms Carroll’s successor was already underway, with the company’s chairman Sir John Parker leading the recruiting process. Bloomberg quotes Deutsche Bank as saying in a note to clients that Alex Vanselow, a former BHP chief financial officer, was “the most obvious candidate”. Chris Griffith, Anglo Platinum’s CEO, is seen as the strongest internal successor.

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In an interview on Bloomberg Television, John Meyer, an analyst at Fairfax IS Plc, pointed out Xstrata’s CEO Mick Davis as a potential candidate, with Mr Davis set to step down as Xstrata’s CEO after the proposed merger with Glencore International (LON:GLEN). The FT, however, quotes Anglo American’s chairman as declining to identify a possible replacement for Ms Carroll. “We will conduct an international search, both internally and externally,” noted Sir John. “We will not be rushed – the most important thing is to find the right person to lead the company.”

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