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Anglo American appoints Duncan Wanblad as chief executive

Anglo American has named South African Duncan Wanblad as its new chief executive, replacing Mark Cutifani who is stepping down after nine years at the top of the FTSE 100 mining group.

The appointment of 54-year-old Wanblad, who is currently head of strategy and business development, had been expected by analysts and investors, with most thinking it would follow the completion of a big copper project in Peru next year. That timeline has been broadly followed with Wanblad due to take the helm after Anglo’s annual shareholder meeting in April.

Cutifani, who has become synonymous with the company, will be a tough act to follow. Under the avuncular Australian, Anglo has been transformed from the sector’s laggard into a miner that arguably has better growth potential than rivals Glencore, Rio Tinto and BHP.

 “I am honoured that the board has given me the opportunity to lead this great company and our wonderful colleagues around the world,” Wanblad said in a statement. “Having started my career underground as a junior engineer, I have never lost sight of what it takes to produce the metals and minerals that are ever more vital to support our life on this planet,” he said.

As head of Anglo’s copper business, Wanblad drove the development of the Quellaveco copper mine in Peru, which is due to begin production next year. He also masterminded the acquisition of Sirius Minerals, a deal that will take Anglo back into the fertiliser market.

However, Anglo still has a large footprint in South Africa, where it mines platinum group metals, iron ore and diamonds.

A Watford FC supporter and classic car enthusiast, Wanblad is married with two children. He came to the UK in 2008 when he was appointed head of Anglo’s copper business. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

“Duncan Wanblad is the standout and natural successor to Mark Cutifani, bringing his 30 years of international mining experience and deep understanding of Anglo American, its culture and its context,” said Anglo’s chair Stuart Chambers in a statement.

Wanblad will have to deliver on his predecessor’s road map to make Anglo American carbon neutral by 2040, including an “ambition” to reduce its so-called Scope 3 emissions by 50 per cent.

He will receive annual basic pay of £1.25m plus a bonus of up to 210 per cent of his salary in 2022 if certain performance targets are met. Half of any award will be deferred into shares. In addition, he will be eligible for shares worth up to 300 per cent of his basic salary, vesting after three years, under a long-term incentive plan.

Anglo said Cutifani would remain an employee until June 2022 “to support the transition”.

Dominic O’Kane, analyst at JPMorgan, said he had viewed Wanblad as Cutifani’s most likely successor.

“We therefore expect no significant strategic shifts under Mr Wanblad, but we expect to hear more details on the evolution of the existing strategy and Mr Wanblad’s priorities at Anglo American’s 2021 Investor Day on 10th of December.”

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