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Newcrest Earnings Surge as CEO Steps Down

February 11, 2011

“Newcrest Mining Ltd. Chief Executive Ian Smith unexpectedly resigned from the world’s fifth-largest gold miner Friday, as the company said fiscal first-half net profit more than doubled to 437.8 million Australian dollars ($439.4 million) from a year earlier.

Mr. Smith, who took over as head of the company in July 2006, said he was leaving to ‘pursue other areas of personal interest’ and would be handing over to Greg Robinson, the company’s executive director of finance. His resignation surprised many in the market, who had expected to see Mr. Smith enjoy the fruits of his labors after turning the company around and completing the acquisition of smaller rival Lihir Gold Ltd. in September.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, February 10 2011

Observations:

  • Newcrest bought and quickly integrated Lihir last summer in an $8bln deal, almost doubling the production capacity of the company.
  • In the wake of the financial crisis and with the increase of the gold price over the past decade directors of gold miners seem to see a lot of worth in finding CEOs with a solid financial background. Barrick’s Aaron Regent, Newmont’s Richard O’Brien, GoldField’s Nicholas Holland, and Newcrest’s Greg Robinson all held CFO positions prior to being appointed CEO.

Implications:

  • Mr. Smith is mentioned to potentially take a top position at either BHP Billiton or Rio Tinto. However, he denies having any concrete plans for a future executive job at this moment. CEO positions at both Anglo American and Vale might become available in the near future: Anglo’s Cynthia Carroll has completed a successful turnaround of the company, while Vale’s Agnelli sees the term in which he turned the domestic champion into the world’s second largest miner end this May. Vale’s board is likely to either give Agnelli a new term or to appoint another Brazilian CEO to ensure good political ties with the government.
  • Expansion of the current group of diversified miners into gold mining should not be ruled out. As they currently hold minor positions in the precious metals market, this might be one of the fields where large deals are still approved by regulators. However, with current gold prices any deal would be based on very high valuation and closed at a high price.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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