JOHN Parker, the UK industrialist who fired Anglo American CEO, Cynthia Carroll, replacing her with Australian, Mark Cutifani, is to step down from the chairmanship of the UK-listed mining group this year.
Anglo American announced his decision today saying that Sir John – he was knighted in 2001 for his services to ship building – had been at the group for eight years.
Sir Philip Hampton, Anglo American’s senior independent director, will begin the search for replacement candidates to Sir John who will continue to chair the UK group until a successor is found.
Said Sir John: “Having seen Anglo American emerge in a strong position from the mining industry downturn, with its sharp falls in commodity prices between 2014 and 2016, I believe that the time is now right for the board to seek my successor”.
He said Anglo was well prepared for the future.
Anglo is due to report its full-year figures on February 21 where the focus will be on issues such as the reinstatement of the dividend, cash generation and restructuring, especially of the South African assets.
There has been a degree of senior management changes at Anglo in the past year. In April last year, the group announced that its CFO of some 12 years René Medori was to step down. Then in July, it announced another management reshuffle with Norman Mbazima relinquishing the reins at Kumba Iron Ore in favour of overseeing the restructure of the group’s South African assets. He was replaced by Themba Mkhwanazi who was the CEO of Anglo’s South African coal assets.
Parker, who is known for a no-nonsense approach, was appointed Anglo chairman in 2009 during the time when Xstrata sought its ‘merger of equals’ transaction with Anglo – an unsolicited approach from the equally tough Mick Davis. He was able to fend off the merger, which some shareholders wanted, and is therefore integral in seeing Anglo through to its 100-year anniversary this year.
Those early days on the board could not have been comfortable ones, however. He’d barely warmed the seat when 25% of staff and management – 2,700 people – were retrenched.
However, he helped streamline the organisation and strengthened the board with three relatively high-profile appointments whilst supporting Carroll in eventually helping De Beers out of its debt crisis.
When some of the same themes of indebtedness and loss-making emerged six years later, this time a function of a more pronounced and profound decline in commodity prices, Parker had already got the tee-shirt.
He has also proved more patient with Cutifani than with Carroll. Asked soon after his appointment if he’d given Carroll a deadline, he fumed: “That’s ridiculous”. Carroll resigned in 2012.
“Chairing Anglo American has been an enormous privilege and it has also appealed to my close interest in engineering, technology and corporate turnarounds,” said Parker.