Is Nhleko heading for glory in the mining sector?
Phuthuma Nhleko, founder of Pembani Group and a nonexecutive director of Anglo American, sat out the previous December’s board meeting of the UK mining group owing to a “conf lict of interest” – a moderately interesting fact unless, of course, it can form the basis for some fascinating speculation as to how he plans to grow his business empire.
The hypothesis is that Nhleko has an interest in Anglo American’s coal assets which may have been discussed at the December meeting. All Anglo says on the matter is disclosed in its annual report. The coal business was discussed at Anglo’s July 2014 board meeting and while there was no direct coal discussion in December, it did have “budget and business plans 2015-2017” on the agenda.
Anglo American declined to comment when asked by Finweek if Nhleko’s absence was related to a possible interest in the group’s coal mines. Pembani Group CEO Kennedy Bungane did not return messages left via email and phone.
We do know, however, that Anglo is a seller of some of its thermal coal assets supplying Eskom judging by comments made to this magazine by Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani in February. Added to the non-core mines owned by Anglo American Platinum, Anglo could raise $ 4bn (R48bn) from its various divestments and help eat into its net debt, which is troubling the $12bn (R144bn) mark.
It is thought that Anglo American is interested in selling the Kriel, New Denmark and New Vaal mines which comprise the bulk of Anglo’s Eskomonly supply. In 2014, New Vaal produced 16.7m tons, while New Denmark and Kriel supplied 3.8m tons and 6.9m tons respectively. The only other Eskom-only coal mines owned by Anglo are Mafube (1.7m tons) and Zibulo (2.6m tons).
In May last year, Nhleko’s Pembani