I do not own any shares in Anglo American. Although I suspect some of the mutual trust funds where my money sits do hold Anglo shares. I consult to a number of Anglo mines. Thus this opinion is colored and you should think things through yourself, and not take my every word as a good word.
Prompted by an email that said the following, I watched the video.
Video release: Anglo American (AAL:LSE) full-year 2013 results interview with CEO Mark Cutifani. Chief Executive Mark Cutifani discusses Anglo American’s preliminary results, his first as CEO of the company. He highlights improved underlying operating profit achieved against a challenging backdrop for commodity prices. René Médori, FD, looks at the impact of currency movements, dividend and impairments.
The interviews are shorter & faster to assimilate than a book or magazine article. The video is highly recommended if you seek insight into what makes the modern mining industry tick & hiccup: insight from body language; failures noted in a fanfare of plans to improve; success bringing smiles of pride; and the complexities of managing directors, shareholders, and stakeholders taken in skilled stride.
Clearly Cutifani is intelligent, smart, able, and skilled. Just the man to be leading the fifth largest mining company. Although I still reminisce on the times when I was growing up in South Africa and Anglo was the biggest. Times change, and listening to Cutifani I am reminded why companies wax & wane. For the right person at the top can make a difference. He noted a thirty percent change since he took over of the two top levels of management. That cannot have been easy. But it has made a difference and it reminds us of how quickly even the best are no longer the best. And of the need for constant change and new blood.
I found his remarks on the need for the mining industry to adopt the ways of the big manufacturing and petrochemical industries as being most fascinating. He implied that the mining industry is far behind in applying modern management techniques. That is not surprising if you recall for how long mining was a fraternity of folk who could do no wrong. There was no real competition to produce; no long-term challenges to deal with; it was a simple as digging and selling. Yet as Cutifani notes in the next fifteen years the industry, as a whole, will have to move twice as much waste to produce one unit of metal as it does now. He noted that the industry has been unsuccessful at finding good new deposits and acknowledges this as part reason for getting out of Pebble. Challenges indeed for the future.
Then he pinpoints relationships with local peoples as the key to the success of mining companies in the future. He says that the companies that get local relationships right will succeed; those who get it wrong will fail. Hope that does not imply more conferences on community relationships. Just get on with it guys. And toss those pebbles overboard.
We never know with these interviews how much time went into preparing questions, preparing canned answers, rehearsing answers, and putting on a polished show with the simulacrum of spontaneity. Clearly this was a production of long and detailed planning and much rehearsal and probably many retakes. It is a movie for public consumption and propaganda after all. Still it is skillfully done, although the answers are just a bit to pat, to smooth, too polished to be real. You know you are watching skilled actors who have studied their parts presenting well rehearsed and edited presentation. Fun nevertheless.