AngloGold board united on strategy to return firm to gold industry elite in three years

Alberto Calderon, CEO, AngloGold Ashanti

THE board of AngloGold Ashanti had united behind a single strategy which was to see the firm’s return to the world’s gold mining elite in three years, said CEO, Alberto Calderon.

“After 100 hours of meetings with the board we are full aligned,” Calderon said in a media conference today following publication of AngloGold’s third quarter results. “AngloGold is an iconic South African company,” he said adding that his job was to “liberate the assets”.

Calderon’s comments come two weeks after a damning statement by the company’s former chairman, Sipho Pityana who alleged he was levered off the board owing to differences of opinion on strategic subjects such as whether the company should seek an offshore listing. According to Pityana, AngloGold was pockmarked with dysfunction.

Pityana resigned from AngloGold’s board in December. His statement came amid an application to the High Court of South Africa for a declaratory order after being sidelined for the chairmanship of banking group Absa. He alleged AngloGold’s current chairwoman, Maria Ramos had interfered with his nomination by providing details of an independent report commissioned by AngloGold that found him guilty of sexual harassment whilst chairman of the company, a role he held from 2014.

“In a suite of things we will look at it (an offshore listing),” said Calderon of a listing, but he emphasised that this was in no way a priority. His comments also come in the context of a $360 per ounce increase in all-in sustaining costs (AISC) in the third quarter year on year.

AngloGold reported a 5% quarter on quarter increase in adjusted net earnings of $448m for the third quarter, but about half of third quarter earnings last year of $741m. Calderon said he would implement a new operating model at the company that involved a less cluttered management structure, improved individual accountability and a swingeing cut of cash costs.

“I have interacted a lot with the board. I see a united board which will fully aligned on what has to be done. And that is what I’ve been discussing with you: a new operating model, and focusing on the basics,” he said.

Asked if he had taken a poisoned chalice by accepting the job at AngloGold after nearly a year-long search for a replacement for former CEO Kelvin Dushnisky, Calderon said: “Some companies can be poisoned chalices as they have no systems or not the right people. Then it is like a cancer.

“But this is a case of liberating the assets. This is a question of three years as we can already see how things will fall into place,” he said. “I have a wonderful board, a good relationship. This is the very best of chalices.”

A graduate of Yale University, Calderon held a range of senior positions at BHP including chief commercial officer between 2007 and 2011.

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