AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Mark Cutifani. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

ANGLOGOLD Ashanti is understood to have listed seven candidates to replace Mark Cutifani as CEO, with speculation that ArcelorMittal's global head of mining, Peter Kukielski, is on the list.

The highly rated Mr Cutifani took the helm at London-based Anglo American this month, leaving a chasm at the head of the gold company, which mines in 20 countries.

AngloGold's need to replace Mr Cutifani comes at a bad time, with its share price down 29.5% in the past year and gold miners battling power shortages and looming pay talks.

This week, reports emerged that government had torpedoed AngloGold's plans to split its South African assets from overseas mines.

According to Bloomberg, shareholders, including billionaire hedge fund investor John Paulson, wanted the company to split its assets to lift its share price. Mr Paulson said the plan could boost the stock 68%.

However, government had apparently refused to sanction the plan.

Investors reacted badly to the news as AngloGold's share price fell 2.98% on the JSE on Friday after losing 3.1% on Thursday.

In November, Gold Fields split its assets, moving the South African operations into Sibanye Gold.

It is understood that AngloGold Ashanti had 15 applicants for the CEO's position, and it has now drawn up a short list of seven.

One of the candidates touted to replace Mr Cutifani is Neville Nicolau, its former chief operating officer who left for Anglo American's platinum arm Anglo Platinum (Amplats).

Sources say Mr Kukielski was in Johannesburg last week and met several AngloGold Ashanti directors, including chair Tito Mboweni.

AngloGold spokesman Alan Fine refused to reveal who the candidates are. "All I can tell you is that we have appointed a search agency, and the search is both internal and external. The process has already started," he said.

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times