Ta Ta, Trahar
Shareholders reflect on Anglo chief’s seven-year stint
ANGLO AMERICAN’S 373 US cents full-year share earnings announcement, and $3bn share buy-back programme, pretty much represents CEO Tony Trahar’s last major public appearance for the company. What now lies ahead is some splendid retirement, although it remains to be seen how long Trahar will sit in the shade sucking a pina colada through two straws.
Cynthia Carroll, who’s Trahar’s diminutive successor (Anglo will have to buy a step so we can see her properly, over the podium, next time), looked shattered, having covered every acre of grass Anglo owns, visiting mines from Chile to the underground reaches of Anglo Platinum’s Amandelbult mine.
Making a brief introduction at Anglo’s results presentation, Carroll had, she croaked, nearly lost her voice, which is a good sign as it probably means there was a lot of speaking during her world tour of Anglo’s assets; a lot of questions, maybe uncomfortable ones.
So what do SA shareholders make of Trahar’s seven-year stint in the role as CEO? There’s remarkable agreement that he presides over a better company today, than the one he inherited from Julian Ogilvie Thompson in 2000. It’s more streamlined and has an established presence in London. At a priceearnings ratio of 20, the company is highly rated against its peers.
Says Wayne McCurrie of Advantage Asset Management: “Shareholders have done extremely well out of Anglo. It’s a way better company.” Getting rid of Namakwa Sands and Mondi is also a good move, says McCurrie.
But, there’s a sense that Trahar’s conservatism was allowed to dominate. He called, for instance, the commodity markets wrong in 2003 when BHP Billiton was doing flikflaks over the Chinese prospects, and India. He pulled out of Zambia’s copperbelt when he shouldn’t have.
Patrice Rassou, an analyst for Sanlam Investment Managers, says new management would probably benefit from the restructur- ing and the difficult decisions Trahar took. For Carroll, then, the expectation is that Anglo is run as a tighter ship. Trahar, too, improved on cost containment, but his head was also turned by strategic imperatives.
Leaving Carroll a tighter ship.