CEO: CYNTHIA CARROLL COMPANY: ANGLO AMERICAN
1-year return: –15.03%
The money quote: “Mining is in my blood. And SA is in my soul.” Grade: C
AS CEO of one of SA’s best known corporate brands, Carroll may find her last few months as Anglo’s head will require her most portentous decision-making to date: how to restructure the struggling assets of its listed subsidiary, Amplats. It was as disgruntlement morphed into violent protest at Amplats’s mines this year that Anglo’s shareholders called time on Carroll. Reluctantly, one suspects, Anglo’s board accepted her resignation; after all, Carroll did much to alter the DNA of Anglo’s culture.
A bossy American; and a woman to boot, Carroll vigorously applied the hook to anyone who challenged her, most famously the two Amplats CEOs who failed to deliver safety and cost performances. Safety was Carroll’s clarion call and her bugbear. It may also prove her legacy insofar as she helped improve standards. In the end, however, pressures elsewhere in the business mounted.
No more so than at Minas Rio, the iron-ore project in Brazil where costs ballooned taking total investment in the mine to an unforgivably high $14bn. Carroll gave Anglo a human visage, especially to SA’s Government, which remembers how it prospered during apartheid. But international shareholders wanted more. Anglo wasn’t alone in failing to produce mines on time, on budget, or in even buying badly, but when the sword of shareholder judgment fell, it was swift and final.