Anglo investors are too far from the coalface

By on March 27, 2013

The outgoing chief executive of mining giant Anglo American, Cynthia Carroll, has told mining industry investors that they need to pare down their expectations or get out of mining altogether.

Carroll, who was essentially ousted by disgruntled shareholders after several quarters of poor financial results, has stuck the knife in before she clears her desk.

In an interview with the FT, she accused shareholders of not knowing “what it really takes to deliver projects.” She said: “It’s not an industry where you can react overnight to something that happened yesterday. The context has changed [and] maybe the shareholder base must also change. It will need more time and patience.”

She is likely to be given short shrift by shareholders, as only last month, the firm posted a pre-tax loss of £154m for last year, a massive drop from the $10.78bn profit it achieved in 2011.

Carroll is obviously referring to Anglos’ current project in Brazil – a giant iron ore project in Minas Rio. Her point is that it is unreasonable for shareholders to expect whopping quarterly returns and simultaneously for the company to be investing gazillions in new projects.

Projects such as Minas Rio are a license to print money for decades once they’re up and running but, her point is, this takes time and massive investment, which can harm the balance sheet in the short term.

She added: “Some [investors are] under severe pressure and want a return tomorrow. They’re going to be hard-pressed to get them because it’s not going to happen that way.”

Carroll is replaced in April by Mark Cutifani, who joins from AngloGold Ashanti.

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