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Some think not too soon for Anglo obituary

Some eager to write Anglo-American obituary

Diamond sorting in Kimberley, South Africa late 1800s. Source:

On Tuesday Anglo-American announced a “radical portfolio restructuring“.

Radical indeed.

The company with roots going back more than a hundred years to South Africa’s gold and diamond fields said it would cut around 85,000 employees, or almost two-thirds of its workforce.

That’s up significantly from the already eye-watering 53,000 positions the miner said in July it would cull.

London-listed Anglo – arguably the most diversified of the mining majors – also said its reducing the number of mines it operates from 55 to the “low 20s”.

CEO Mark Cutifani said Anglo would focus on diamonds, copper and platinum because of better long-term potential.  Only cash-producing (good luck with that) nickel, coal and iron ore assets will be kept in its portfolio.

With every major mining company disposing of “non-core assets” (read unprofitable mines in segments without upside) who’d want to touch nickel, coal and iron ore at this point in the cycle is an open question.

Reuters on Thursday had another look at Anglo’s plans in a cheekily titled piece called “Diamonds are forever; is Anglo American?” and found enough analysts to say Anglo isn’t doing enough to ride out the commodity slump:

“We are curious as to the likely fates of Minas Rio and Anglo American Platinum, given the supposed emphasis of the new strategy on cash generation,” Shore Capital analysts said.

“We had previously perceived Anglo as the most likely of the diversified majors to go bust. The company is clearly determined to try to survive or go down fighting, but we will have to reserve judgment as to which is likelier for the time being.”

“The balance sheet concerns are likely to remain until commodity prices improve or net debt is reduced,” UBS analysts said in a note. Anglo American Finance Director Rene Medori said the company was not planning to tap the market for cash as of now. But several people in the market felt otherwise.

“The downside risk to commodity prices is still significant, and further action, including an equity issuance, may still be necessary in 2016,” said Jefferies analysts, whose new 275p price target was lower than others.

Anglo ended Thursday at 319p in London. Down 15% since Monday and 73% year to date.

There’s more analysis at Reuters.