Anglo’s Mkhwanazi Named Kumba Iron Ore CEO Ahead of Sale

  • Mkhwanazi replaces Mbazima, who steps down after four years
  • Platinum executive Ndlovu becomes Anglo South Africa coal CEO

Anglo American Plc named Themba Mkhwanazi as chief executive officer of Kumba Iron Ore Ltd., switching him from head of its South African coal unit as the London-based miner prepares to divest both units.

Mkhwanazi, 46, takes over on Sept. 1 from Norman Mbazima, who’s stepping down after four years and will remain deputy chairman of Anglo American’s South African division, the London-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Mbazima, 58, will oversee the sale of Anglo’s non-core assets in South Africa including its coal mines and Kumba.

“The preparation work will be finished later this year and Anglo American then has to make the decision,” Mbazima said on a call with reporters. “Each possible sale mode is still being evaluated.”

After a torrid 2015, when Anglo fell victim to the global commodity-price rout and lost 75 percent of its market value, the company accelerated a plan to exit iron ore and coal to focus on its more profitable assets -- diamonds, platinum and copper. Kumba, once the bedrock of Anglo’s dividend, has struggled to remain competitive as a supply glut fed by Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. met a slowing economy in China, the biggest consumer of the steelmaking ingredient.

“The decline in iron-ore market continues to have a major impact on our business and prices are not expected to recover in the short to medium term,” Mbazima said.

Profit Increase

July Ndlovu will replace Mkhwanazi as head of Anglo’s South African coal division, moving from head of processing at Anglo American Platinum Ltd.

Kumba, Africa’s biggest producer of iron ore, reported first-half headline earnings of 3 billion rand ($210 million), up 20 percent on the previous year, driven by cost-cutting at its Sishen mine in South Africa. Output dropped by 21 percent, in line with the mine’s revised plan.

Mbazima has restructured the company by axing its dividend, halving the amount of ore it mines, cutting its workforce by a third and selling off stockpiles of the metal.

Kumba’s net cash position was 548 million rand as of June 30 compared with net debt of 4.6 billion rand on Dec. 31, but it won’t yet resume paying dividends, it said. The company is on course to achieve its full-year production forecast of about 39 million tons.

The stock declined 3.4 percent to 122.25 rand at 10:08 a.m. in Johannesburg, valuing the company at about $2.7 billion. The shares have more than tripled this year, boosted by a 31 percent increase in iron-ore prices over the same period.

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