Anglo American newly appointed CE Mark Cutifani occupied his office yesterday in what promises to be the beginning of a highly challenging job.
The Australian born Cutifani was poached from AngloGold Ashanti. This is after Cynthia Carroll threw in the towel amid a barrage of criticism pointing to poor performance of the global mining giant.
Cutifani has 35 years mining industry experience having been the CEO of AngloGold Ashanti since 2007. Before joining AngloGold Ashanti, he was COO of global resources giant Vale. He has held senior positions at Normandy Group, Sons of Gwalia, Western Mining Corporation, Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines and CRA (Rio Tinto).
In South Africa Cutifani’s appointment was met with mixed feelings. South Africa is a critical point for Anglo being a country of its birth and still accounting for 37% of assets and more than 50% of profits.
Lobbyist positioned on leftwards criticized the Cutifani appointment saying Anglo should have appointed a South African. These criticisms can be taken to have flowed from a position taken by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). South Africa’s largest investor issued a stinging statement after the resignation of Carroll suggesting it favoured a local candidate for the job.
The PIC said last year the insufficient emerging markets representation in the Anglo board was of concern given that most of its operations are situated in emerging markets, particularly SA. “Our view is that this urgently needs to be addressed to make the composition of the Board more reflective of the geographic positioning of the company. Of course, South Africa’s profit contribution needs to be taken into account in this regard”.
“Clearly the current composition of the Board could also have resulted in missed opportunities particularly in Africa thereby contributing to the underperformance (the group has been slowly pulling out of projects in countries like DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe etc) in recent years”.
While the PIC was addressing itself to board representation its narration has been taken up by other stakeholders and applied to the CEO position. The PIC itself has welcomed Cutifani’s appointment.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was said Anglo missed the opportunity to align its leadership with its geographical exposure and to also embrace affirmative action.
The Black Management Forum joined the chorus of criticism. The BMF said it was “extremely disappointed about the appointment of an Australian”.
“Anglo American has a strong South African heritage that dates back to the era of the gold rush more than a century ago. The country has been longest in mining with great expertise and yet Anglo American’s board has not appointed a local candidate,” said the BMF.
“With over 18 years in our democracy they have failed to identify and develop a black executive as part of their succession plan. There are many capable South Africans that have a wealth of global, leadership and listed company experience across a range of industries. This appointment is a clear indication of Anglo American’s lip service to transformation”, said BMF MD Nicholas Maweni in a statement issued in January.