CHRISTINE Ramon, interim CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, acknowledged there would be uncertainty regarding the long-term strategy of the company until the board appointed a permanent CEO.
“It is fair to say that until you have a permanent leader of the company, it does create an uncertainty in the mind of the market,” said Ramon in an interview. “Until a permanent CEO is appointed … [there is a] risk to the strategy of the previous non-permanent leader?
“It has to be resolved,” said Ramon.
Ramon added, however, her plans so far had been supported. “I have seen good support from the board in terms of putting the strategy together,” she said alluding to an increase in the dividend policy to 20% of free cash flow before growth capital expenditure.
The company’s five-year growth strategy – in which AngloGold is to grow production to between 3.2 million ounces and 3.6 million oz by 2025 from 3.05 million oz in 2020 – had also been board mandated, she said.
Kelvin Dushnisky announced his resignation in July and left the company in August. According to Chris Griffith, the CEO of Gold Fields, the company wasn’t interviewing anyone as recently as December when he was in discussions with Gold Fields.
The absence of a full-time CEO was one of the reasons Sibanye-Stillwater approached the company with the offer of a merger, according to market speculation. However, a deal was not forthcoming despite claims by Sibanye-Stillwater Neal Froneman that a three-way tieup with Gold Fields would be in the national interest.
Ramon said in March that her company wasn’t compelled to do any transactions “every two years” owing to a plenitude of its own growth options. “Is there anything that we’re dealing with? No,” said Ramon when asked if merger talks were live with Sibanye-Stillwater.
“Our focus has to be on the business fundamentals and to deliver on the strategy we’ve outlined to the market,” Ramon said. “That’s what we think will deliver most value to our shareholders.”
AngloGold today reported relatively weak first quarter production numbers owing to Covid-19 related absenteeism and lower grades at some operations.
However, the gold price was 13% higher year-on-year which contributed to a 51% improvement in attributable profit.