South Africa has put together a list of proposed black candidates for a new chairperson of Anglo American, including business magnate and former union leader Cyril Ramaphosa, a government source said on Thursday.
The country wants to have a stronger influence in Anglo, South Africa’s biggest mining player, especially now that it is a target of a ”merger of equals” proposal from rival Xstrata, said the high level source, who declined to be named.
Anglo has the bulk of its global workforce in South Africa, and the government wants to avoid any potential job losses.
South African Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu confirmed the government wants a black South African to replace retiring Anglo chaireprson Mark Moody-Stuart, but did not name any candidates.
”Anglo American is rooted in South Africa and it is one of the single biggest players in the South African economy,” Shabangu told Reuters via email.
”Therefore, in line with government policy, we would prefer to have a black South African as the chairperson of Anglo. We believe this would be a positive signal that, going forward, Anglo is committed to South Africa, to the transformation of our economy and the development our country.”
The government source said the list of potential black candidates to replace Moody-Stuart, includes Ramaphosa, a former trade unionist who also served as the secretary general of the African National Congress party.
Ramaphosa’s Shanduka Holdings is one of South Africa’s biggest black-owned groups, with stakes in Africa’s biggest bank by assets, Standard Bank and insurer Liberty.
Other names on the short list are former deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi, former state-owned utility Eskom chairperson Valli Moosa, Popo Molefe and Sivi Gounden, who have chaired or been directors of South African companies.
The government source said the short list was a work in progress and the candidates were yet to be informed.
Anglo, which has black directors on its board, has drawn up its own short list of candidates for chairperson. Another source close to the situation said it was near to choosing a final candidate, a key move at time when it is facing Xstrata’s bid.
Newspaper reports in the United Kingdom said Anglo had reignited plans to appoint National Grid’s Sir John Parker as chairperson. Jim Leng, who recently stepped down as chairperson of Rio Tinto may also be on the shortlist.
Xstrata officials have said a new chairperson at Anglo may improve the chances for the merger, but analysts say progress will be slow if Xstrata maintains its nil-premium stance.
In South Africa, Anglo owns Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest producer of the precious metal, Africa’s biggest iron ore miner, Kumba Iron ore and Anglo Coal, the second-biggest exporter of coal in Africa’s biggest economy.
Xstrata, the world’s top exporter of coal for power plants, wants to create a group to rival the world’s biggest mining firm, BHP Billiton and Rio. – Reuters