Anglo American Plc should appoint more South Africans to its board and senior management to reflect its history and assets, said Pravin Gordhan, the country’s finance minister, adding to calls from local shareholders and the mines minister.
The mining company, which was founded in Johannesburg in 1917, on Oct. 26 said that its American Chief Executive Officer, Cynthia Carroll, is resigning and will leave once her replacement is found. Carroll, 55, was the first non-South African to lead the company, which in 1999 shifted its headquarters to London from Johannesburg.
“Given the strong roots that they have both in terms of history and in terms of where their profit base is, they should look at a greater South African presence on both their board and at a senior management level,” Gordhan, 63, said in an interview in Pretoria today. “If we are given the opportunity we will certainly express our views on the matter.”
Founded to mine deposits on the Witwatersrand, the world’s biggest gold field near Johannesburg, the company helped build South Africa’s mining reliant economy over the next eight decades, dominating its stock exchange and at one stage owning assets ranging from coal mines to banks. South Africa accounted for 49 percent of Anglo’s 2011 sales, according to its website.
“All we can do is say what the facts of the matter are,” Gordhan said. “The facts are you have South African roots, you went off to London. You still have, if you like, an umbilical cord to South Africa in terms of your profits that are extracted here. In that sense, you have some obligations to South Africans as well.”
Anglo controls Johannesburg-based Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s biggest producer of the metal, and Kumba Iron Ore Ltd., Africa’s largest iron ore producer. The company also owns coal and diamond mines in the country.
Its leaders have been Ernest Oppenheimer, his son Harry Oppenheimer, Gavin Relly, Julian Ogilvie Thompson and Tony Trahar.
Of the company’s board only one member, Phuthuma Nhleko, is South African, the company said in an e-mailed response to questions.
On Oct. 26 Susan Shabangu, South Africa’s mines minister, said in a statement she hoped Carroll’s replacement would be “a local person that will continue to contribute to transformation of our industry and who will have our interest as a country at heart.”
The country’s Public Investment Corp. and the Government Employees Pension Fund, which together own 7 percent of Anglo, said on the same day that the London-based company’s board needed to be more reflective of where its assets are.
On Oct. 29 South African President Jacob Zuma told reporters that the government wouldn’t dictate to companies how they choose their leaders.