Anglo American, the FTSE 100 mining giant, is closing in on the appointment of a new chief executive as its veteran boss prepares to bow out after nearly a decade.
Sky News has learnt that the £42bn metals producer is entering the final stages of a process to replace Mark Cutifani, who has transformed the fortunes of a company that was struggling when he took over in 2013.
City sources said on Tuesday that Duncan Wanblad, Anglo American’s strategy director, had emerged in recent months as the leading internal candidate to succeed Mr Cutifani.
The miner’s board, which is chaired by the former Pilkington boss Stuart Chambers, is also considering a small number of external contenders for the role, according to the sources.
One insider said that a decision could be announced as soon as the end of October, and was anticipated at the latest by the turn of the year.
Mr Cutifani has said publicly that he would not step down until Quellaveco, Anglo’s multibillion dollar Peruvian copper mine project, had been completed – a milestone which is expected next spring.
The Anglo CEO post is one of the most coveted in the global mining sector, with the company now seen by shareholders and rivals as a more streamlined and successful business than the one Mr Cutifani inherited eight years ago.
At one stage, Anglo – which trails peers BHP, Rio Tinto and Glencore in size terms – came close to dropping out of London’s blue-chip share index following a litany of problems encapsulated by its $6.7bn purchase of Minas-Rio, an iron ore mine in Brazil.
It has now recovered to the extent that it is the FTSE-100’s 13th-largest company – a position that would be elevated by one if rival BHP implements a plan to scrap its primary listing in London.
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Like its large competitors, Anglo was able to distribute billions of dollars to shareholders during the first half of the year because of surging demand for commodities such as iron ore.
If Mr Wanblad does land the job, it would see an Anglo lifer installed at the top of the company.
He has previously run its copper business as well as Anglo Platinum, and is said to be well-regarded by City analysts.
The identities of the external candidates being considered by the company was unclear on Tuesday.
Spencer Stuart, the search firm, is assisting Anglo’s board with the process.
An Anglo American spokesman declined to comment.