AngloGold CFO Favored by Analysts as ‘Seamless’ CEO Pick

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. would make a “seamless” transition if it chose Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, its finance head and joint interim chief executive officer, to lead the third-biggest producer of the metal after gold prices plummeted, according to two analysts.

Mark Cutifani stepped down as CEO of AngloGold to lead Anglo American Plc on April 3, leaving Venkatakrishnan, known as Venkat, and Executive Director Tony O’Neill as joint interim CEOs of AngloGold.

“Venkat has been with AngloGold a long time and is very familiar with its workings, David Davis, a mining analyst at SBG Securities Ltd. in Johannesburg, said by e-mail. ‘‘He is on the ball with financials and has been intimately involved with all the strategic decisions, and the strategy going forward.’’

The South African shares of the Johannesburg-based gold miner have dropped 38 percent this year as gold has fallen to a more than two-year low.

‘‘Our board sub-committee, headed by our chairman, is working through a thorough process of evaluating both internal and external candidates to select the best possible CEO to lead the company,’’ Stewart Bailey, a New York-based spokesman for AngloGold, said in an e-mail late yesterday. Venkatakrishnan was not available for comment, the company said.

Peter Kukielski, ArcelorMittal’s head of mining, is being considered for the spot, according to a report in the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper, without saying where it got the information. AngloGold is considering seven candidates from 15 initial applicants, the report said.

Proposal Rebuffed

The company had a proposal to split its South African assets from mines elsewhere rebuffed by the country’s government, three people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. Shareholders including John Paulson, the billionaire whose hedge fund is the largest investor in AngloGold, have said a reorganization would boost the value of its stock.

‘‘The government is essentially insisting on a South African-based CEO and there are few people with appropriate experience” willing to move to Johannesburg, John Meyer, an analyst with London-based SP Angel Corporate Finance LLP, said in an e-mail. “The new CEO will be faced with some tough decisions on shutting shafts and laying off staff as gold prices render higher cost production units untenable.”

Venkatakrishnan joined the miner in 2005 after the company took over Ghana’s Ashanti Goldfields Ltd. Joint interim CEO O’Neill started with the company in 2008.

“Venkatakrishnan is known in the industry, he is well respected and is seen as a good guy by his colleagues,” Meyer said. “He is seen as immensely practical and a good appointment if he is chosen.”