The rumour was made official yesterday, when AngloGold announced Cutifani’s departure.
Cutifani will remain as CEO of AngloGold until March 31 and will take up his new role on April 3.
AngloGold said a search would begin for his replacement, but chief financial officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan and executive vice-president business and technical development Tony O’Neill will act as interim joint CEOs.
Cutifani was said to be the top pick due to his relationships and deep knowledge of South Africa.
He has been CEO of AngloGold since 2007 and in November – in the midst of crippling industry-wide strikes – Cutifani was elected as president of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, after previously serving as vice-president.
Anglo’s current CEO, Cynthia Carroll, announced her resignation in late October after five years in the role, but agreed to remain with the company until a successor was found.
Cutifani will have plenty to do at Anglo, with the underperforming company worth about two-thirds of what it was worth when Carroll took over.
Its platinum and iron ore assets in South Africa have been subject to extensive strike action, much like AngloGold’s mines.
Cutifani started out in the mining industry working in coal in Woolongong as he completed his degree in mining engineering. He then worked at the Super Pit in Kalgoorlie before moving to WMC, Normandy Mining and Sons of Gwalia.
Inco approached him to restructure its business and he spent five years in Canada prior to its takeover by Vale. He then moved to AngloGold in Johannesburg, where he presided over a tough restructure of its business.