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Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal hires AngloGold’s CEO to run Vedanta

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By Felix Njini and Thomas Biesheuvel

(Bloomberg) – Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Resources Plc named AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.’s Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan as its new chief executive officer as the diversified miner ended a year-long search for a new boss.

File Photo: Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, outgoing CEO of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. Photographer: Halden Krog/Bloomberg

Venkatakrishnan, who takes over from interim CEO Kuldip Kaura, will leave Johannesburg-based AngloGold on Aug. 30 and join Vedanta a day later, the companies said in separate statements Monday. The 53-year-old has been at Africa’s biggest gold producer for 18 years, including five as CEO.

Agarwal, who is also mining giant Anglo American Plc’s biggest shareholder, had been searching for a candidate to lead Vedanta since announcing that former Rio Tinto Group CEO Tom Albanese was stepping down. Under Venkatakrishnan’s leadership, AngloGold has reduced its so-called all-in sustaining costs by 16 percent and cut debt by one-third, the company said. AngloGold has started a search to replace him.

“Venkat is a widely respected business leader in the global resources space, who brings to Vedanta an impressive set of values and a wealth of experience in corporate and other roles,” Agarwal said in a statement. “He also has a strong track record managing a complex portfolio of operating assets and projects across Africa.”

Stock Performance

Vedanta’s shares have lost 4 percent in the past year, valuing the company at about $2.8 billion. AngloGold’s stock has dropped 37 percent in the same period and is now worth $3.8 billion.

Agarwal surprised Anglo American’s management last year when he took a 21 percent stake in the company. He has been a vocal supporter of South Africa, where Vedanta is set to begin production at its new Gamsberg zinc mine this year, and has argued that Anglo American should remain committed to its assets in the country.

Vedanta plans to double its Indian copper capacity by 2020 and had record aluminum output last year.

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