Vedanta Re­sources head hunts An­gloGold Ashanti’s Venkatakr­ish­nan for CEO...

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ANIL Agar­wal hired An­gloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s Srinivasan Venkatakr­ish­nan to run his...

ANIL Agar­wal hired An­gloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s Srinivasan Venkatakr­ish­nan to run his Vedanta Re­sources Plc in a move that may hint at the In­dian bil­lion­aire’s plans for his global com­mod­ity port­fo­lio. Venkatakr­ish­nan, 53, has been CEO of Jo­han­nes­burg-based An­gloGold for five years and spent much of his ca­reer work­ing in Africa. That’s a first for a Vedanta CEO and points to the grow­ing im­por­tance of the In­dian group’s in­vest­ments on the con­ti­nent, where its as­sets in­clude Zam­bian cop­per and South African zinc. Agar­wal, who is also min­ing gi­ant An­glo Amer­i­can Plc’s big­gest share­holder, high­lighted Venkatakr­ish­nan’s African ex­pe­ri­ence in a state­ment last week. “It is in­ter­est­ing that Vedanta so clearly seems to be tar­get­ing South Africa as a key part of their strat­egy,” said San­ford C. Bern­stein Ltd. an­a­lyst Paul Gait. “Hav­ing a South African back­ground, South African ex­pe­ri­ence and the abil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate in a South African en­vi­ron­ment is clearly some­thing that Agar­wal and Vedanta value.” Venkatakr­ish­nan, who was born and ed­u­cated in In­dia, was CFO of Ashanti Gold­fields Ltd. be­fore its merger with An­gloGold, where he served as fi­nance chief for eight years un­til his pro­mo­tion to CEO. Dur­ing that time, he worked for six years along­side then-CEO Mark Cu­ti­fani, who now holds the top job at An­glo Amer­i­can. ‘Some­how con­nected’ Agar­wal sur­prised An­glo Amer­i­can’s man­age­ment last year when he took a 21% stake in the com­pany, a move that has left the mar­ket spec­u­lat­ing over his long-term in­ten­tions for the blue chip min­ing com­pany. In 2016, Agar­wal pro­posed a tie-up be­tween a good match. “It’s hard not to see these events as some­how con­nected,” Bern­stein’s Gait said. Agar­wal, who has been hunt­ing for a new Vedanta CEO for more than a year, has con­sis­tently sought tal­ent from the world’s big­gest min­ers. He hired for­mer Rio Tinto Group CEO Tom Al­banese as chief ex­ec­u­tive in 2014 and for­mer An­glo Amer­i­can head Cyn­thia Car­roll worked as an ad­viser un­til last year. Venkatakr­ish­nan’s South African ex­pe­ri­ence looks more im­por­tant than his cor­po­rate ex­pe­ri­ence, Gait said. Agar­wal has been a vo­cal sup­porter of the coun­try, ar­gu­ing that An­glo Amer­i­can should re­main com­mit­ted to its as­sets there.

Anil Agar­wal – Vedanta Re­sources Plc Chair­man re­cently head hunted An­gloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s Srinivasan Venkatakr­ish­nan as CEO.

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