BHP tried swaying Anglo’s Mark Cutifani to be its CEO

Cutifani has been at Anglo American’s helm since 2013 and navigated the century-old miner through one of its most traumatic periods. (Image: Screenshot from Anglo American video via YouTube)

The world’s largest mining company, BHP, (ASX, NYSE: BHP) is said to have approached Anglo American’s chief executive, Mark Cutifani, on more than one occasion, asking him to consider going for the top job at the company.

BHP favours an internal hire, but is also open to external candidates, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. So far, the 60-year-old Australian mining veteran has declined the offer, they added.

The current internal front runners are said to be Peter Beaven, BHP’s chief financial officer, and Mike Henry, head of the company’s Australian business.

Cutifani, Anglo’s boss since 2013, has under his belt one of the industry’s most impressive turnarounds. The company went from being one of the hardest hit during the commodity prices crash of 2015 and 2016 to a position of growth.

For years, speculation around the future of BHP’s boss Andrew Mackenzie, has grabbed headlines. By 2017, the rumours were so widespread that the new chairman’s first meeting with the press was preceded by a statement backing his CEO. 

It seems, however, that the company is ready for a change. Mackenzie, 62, could leave the company as early as next year, sources who asked to remain anonymous recently told MINING.COM.

The leader of the world’s No. 1 mining company saw his annual pay shrink by almost a quarter this year after an unexplained death at one of BHP’s Queensland mines and a runaway iron ore train cost him a portion of his short-term bonus.

Mackenzie’s short-term bonus was reduced by more than $1 million from 2018 to $1.3 million. His base salary was kept at $1.7 million, taking his total earnings, including other benefits, to $3.5 million, from $4.6 million in 2018.

While BHP returned a record dividend to shareholders, Mackenzie — at the helm of the world’s largest mining company since 2013 — received no long-term bonus payment in the financial year ended in June 2019.

Cutifani, appointed as Anglo American’s boss also in 2013, has under his belt one of the industry’s most impressive turnarounds. The diversified miner, one of the hardest hit during the commodity prices crash of 2015 and 2016, laid-off 63% of its workforce and sold almost half its mines to survive.

Since then, a rebound in prices and cost-cutting measures imposed by Cutifani have put the company back in a position of growth.

The son of a working-class crane driver who grew up near Sydney, Cutifani has been able to cut Anglo’s debt load of about $13 billion only four years ago to only $3.4 billion for the first half of this year.

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