Cutifani to keep an open mind

NEW Anglo American boss Mark Cutifani says he will not rule out anything when it comes to creating value for shareholders.

Kristie Batten

Cutifani, who took the reins at Anglo yesterday, said he’d been fascinated by mining industry talk over the past 12 months.

“I've been in this industry for 36 years and to hear people saying you shouldn't buy, you shouldn't sell, you shouldn't develop, you shouldn't grow, you shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that . . . ” he said.

“Now for 36 years, I've seen the industry go through a range of cycles where at some point in time, with the right asset or the right opportunity, each one of those has been a good strategy.

“We make the mistake, I think, of defining the world [by], it's only this or it's only that.”

Cutifani said he would be keeping an open mind to all possibilities and understand what creates value for shareholders.

“That we pull the opportunity apart, we understand how to get at that value and we understand how to execute a transaction, a project, a deal, whatever it may be, so that we actually deliver on that value,” he said.

“And in my view, the focus has to be on value and the pathway, as it presents itself, will be as it will be.”

He said value creation could come in capitalising on Anglo’s diversity.

“Across the industry these days, the words 'major diversified' are thrown around fairly lightly and when one looks at the dominance of iron ore across many of those portfolios, I think you could argue that a few of those groups are not diversified as they once were,” Cutifani said.

“You can't say that for Anglo American. Now whether we've realised the potential of that diversity in our portfolio is something that I need to address with our team and I think that's the great opportunity. “

Cutifani said while he hadn’t been an engineer for many years, he was still logical in the way he thought.

“In being systematic while we peel the layers of the onion back, I'll look to start with the value proposition for being a major diversified,” he said.

“I'll look at the portfolio, the commodities we're in - do they make sense? Are they the right commodities for the future? The assets - are they competitive? Are they as good as they could be? Should we be doing things differently to realise value? The balance sheet - do we have the capacity to realise that value and are we flexible enough in the way we're operating?

“We'll then go to systems and structures and people know that as a mining industry, we're miles behind other sectors, so lots of room for innovation. And then finally, have we got the right people in the right roles, doing the right work?”

Cutifani said those were the things he’d be focusing on in his first 3-4 months in the role and people would start to get a sense of the key messages and the direction the company was heading in.

“The one thing I've learnt that is most important in a leader being able to deliver a leadership message is clarity and simplicity,” he said.

He added that he wasn’t concerned about the commodities market, saying there would always be uncertainty.

“In terms of water, energy, commodities, the world is short,” he said.

“If the world is going to continue to grow at better than 3% we don't have enough of any of those products to actually support that growth.

“As a company we can, I think, create real value by being smarter and quicker than our competitors in delivering into those needs in terms of the broader community and at the same time, make sure we're doing the right thing by our local communities, by our own employees, by all of those people that are impacted by our business.”