Sibanye-Stillwater plans management overhaul at troubled New Century investment

NEW Century, an Australian tailings retreatment firm taken over by Sibanye-Stillwater last month, is undergoing a leadership makeover starting with the firm’s chair Kerry Gleeson who announced her resignation on Wednesday.

According to a report by BusinessLive, New Century’s CEO Robert Cooper looks sure to follow as Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman responds to the steep decline in New Century’s shares this year.

On February 21, Sibanye-Stillwater announced it would spend $83m (R1.5bn) buying shares in its then 19.9%-owned New Century that it didn’t already own. A month later it announced it would fund the company with a further A$30m amid operational problems.

New Century’s Queensland operations as well as the port of Karumba was flooded which led to the longer-than-expected delay in production and wiping out a total of 25,000 to 30,000 tons in zinc output.

Froneman has been critical of New Century’s management. “Under current management, the building of a leading global tailings retreatment business is no longer a focus,” BusinessLive quoted Froneman to have said.

“The substantial decline in shareholder value in recent times, with the New Century share price down 59% over the last six months, implies that the current strategy has not been well received by shareholders and investors,” he said.

In addition to Gleeson’s departure, New Century also announced today that Sibanye-Stillwater’s Stephan Stander and Benjamin Dry would become directors of the company. Stander is senior vice-president at Sibanye Australia and Dry is a senior business development manager, said BusinessLive.

In other merger and acqusition activitis, Sibanye-Stillwater has set its sights on Zambian copper mining company Mopani.

“The intended sale of the Mopani mine is of particular interest, presenting a unique opportunity to secure meaningful production ounces of copper, a key green metal for the low carbon economy, at a favourable entry point in the commodity cycles, Sibanye-Stillwater said in its annual report released last week.

In April Sibanye reached a deal with its lenders to increase the size of its revolving credit facility from $600m to $1bn, saying the agreement would enhance its “liquidity and flexibility”.