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Billionaire Agarwal Hires AngloGold's CEO to Run Vedanta

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 2018-04-16 Felix Njini and Thomas Biesheuvel
Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, chief executive officer of Anglogold Ashanti Ltd., gestures as he speaks during his presentation on the second day of the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. A mix of shrinking reserves, rising labor costs, frequent stoppages and regulatory uncertainty has prompted major miners to rethink their presence in the country, home to the world’s largest platinum, chrome, and manganese reserves and the source of one-third of all gold ever mined.: Key Speakers At South Africa's 2017 Mining Indaba © Bloomberg/Bloomberg Key Speakers At South Africa's 2017 Mining Indaba

(Bloomberg) -- Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources Plc named AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan as its new chief executive officer as the diversified miner ended a year-long search for a new boss.

Venkatakrishnan, who takes over from interim CEO Kuldip Kaura, will leave Johannesburg-based AngloGold on Aug. 30 and join Vedanta a day later, the companies said in separate statements Monday. The 53-year-old has been at Africa’s biggest gold producer for 18 years, including five as CEO.

Agarwal, who is also mining giant Anglo American Plc’s biggest shareholder, had been searching for a candidate to lead Vedanta since announcing that former Rio Tinto Group CEO Tom Albanese was stepping down. Under Venkatakrishnan’s leadership, AngloGold has reduced its so-called all-in sustaining costs by 16 percent and cut debt by one-third, the company said. AngloGold has started a search to replace him.

“Venkat is a widely respected business leader in the global resources space, who brings to Vedanta an impressive set of values and a wealth of experience in corporate and other roles,” Agarwal said in a statement. “He also has a strong track record managing a complex portfolio of operating assets and projects across Africa.”

Stock Performance

Vedanta’s shares have lost 4 percent in the past year, valuing the company at about $2.8 billion. AngloGold’s stock has dropped 37 percent in the same period and is now worth $3.8 billion.

Agarwal surprised Anglo American’s management last year when he took a 21 percent stake in the company. He has been a vocal supporter of South Africa, where Vedanta is set to begin production at its new Gamsberg zinc mine this year, and has argued that Anglo American should remain committed to its assets in the country.

Vedanta plans to double its Indian copper capacity by 2020 and had record aluminum output last year.

(Updates with Agarwal comment in fourth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Liezel Hill

To contact the reporters on this story: Felix Njini in Nairobi at fnjini@bloomberg.net, Thomas Biesheuvel in London at tbiesheuvel@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at lthomasson@bloomberg.net, Nicholas Larkin, Lars Paulsson

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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