THE BOTTOM LINE
Cheerio and all the best to SA mining’s toughest nice guy
SA business will miss AngloGold Ashanti CEO’s strong, ethical and principled stance on state corruption
Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan’s departure for Vedanta Resources will leave a hole not only at AngloGold Ashanti, but in the broader business environment in SA.
The unassuming CEO of the world’s third-largest gold miner oversaw some of the toughest business decisions that an executive had to make with the company’s assets, restructuring the business by selling large mines in SA and the US, reining in and reducing debt as well as removing a potentially business-destroying hedge book of 12 million ounces.
More pertinent and probably more sentimental than any other decision was the reduction of the company’s historical base as a leading producer of South African gold to just a single deep-level mine and a tailings retreatment operation, with the country now making up just 10% of annual group output of more than three million ounces.
While he was active at AngloGold as a CEO who would not shy away from tough decisions, he was also an important player behind the scenes who took bold, public positions on matters affecting South African mining.
Described by those close to him as a “real operator”, he was a director at Business Leadership SA, where he argued powerfully for the lobby group to take a strong, uncompromising stance on state corruption and the dealings of the politically connected Gupta family.
It was this ethical and principled stance which flowed into AngloGold and into other boards on which he sat. It’s something that South African business in general will miss at this juncture.