New Anglo head Stuart Chambers has a history of leading takeovers

Stuart Chambers. (Image: Said Business School - University of Oxford)
Stuart Chambers. (Image: Said Business School - University of Oxford)

London - The century-old mining giant Anglo American [JSE:AGL] named Stuart Chambers as its new chairperson less than a year after he steered UK chipmaker ARM Holdings through a $32bn takeover.

Chambers, a former chairperson at ARM and Rexam, will join Anglo’s board in September and take over the post in November, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The 61-year-old is replacing John Parker, who said he was standing down earlier this year.

The new chairperson will join as Anglo seeks to build on a recovery following a raw-materials downturn that hurt most of the mining industry.

The company’s shares slumped to a record low in London in early 2016 on concerns about its debt position. CEO Mark Cutifani announced a plan to radically shrink the company through asset sales, but reversed the strategy this year after recovering commodity prices revived profits.

SoftBank bought Cambridge, England-based chip designer ARM last year in its biggest ever deal. Rexam, a packaging and tincan maker, was bought by US company Ball for £4.4bn in 2016.

Takeover background

"The one noteworthy fact of his appointment is that both companies he previously chaired ended up getting sold," said Ben Davis, an analyst at Liberum Capital in London.

Anglo American is the world’s biggest diamond and platinum miner and operates copper, coal and iron ore mines from South America to Australia.

“Anglo American has emerged from the commodity price downturn more resilient and with a renewed sense of purpose, both strategically and in terms of the role it plays in society,” Chambers said in the statement.

Chambers will have to deal with Anil Agarwal, who secured a stake of about 11% in the miner this year, making the Indian billionaire one of its biggest investors. Agarwal has said the acquisition was in his personal capacity and he doesn’t plan to be an activist investor.

Chambers’ appointment comes at time of transition for some of the world’s biggest mining companies. BHP Billiton is preparing to select a replacement for chairperson Jacques Nasser as early as next week, with the choice focused on three internal candidates, people with knowledge of the process said on Wednesday.

Rio Tinto is also looking for a new chairperson after Jan du Plessis said he planned to step down to take the same role at BT Group.

Chambers has previously been CEO of Nippon Sheet Glass and Pilkington. He has also served as a non-executive officer on the boards of Tesco and Smiths and is a member of the UK Takeover Panel.

Parker was Anglo chairperson for eight years and oversaw the transition from previous CEO Cynthia Carroll to Cutifani in 2013. Under Carroll, the company made a disastrous foray into Brazilian iron ore, spending $14bn to buy and build the Minas-Rio mine. It impaired the value of the project by more than $4bn.

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