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Posts Tagged ‘CEO’

Vale: Roger Agnelli vs. Dilma Rousseff

March 28, 2011 Comments off

Sources: Barclays Bradespar Analyst Report Nov. 2010, Vale SEC Filing FY2010

Observations:

  • Dilma Rousseff appears to have won the battle to replace Vale’s CEO Roger Agnelli, as various Brazilian and international newspapers are reporting a more government-minded chief will be appointed instead of renewing mr. Agnelli’s contract.
  • As displayed above the government has strong control over the world’s largest iron ore miner. Valepar S.A., the controlling shareholder, is 49% owned by state pension funds and the government has large influence on two of the three other major shareholders: BNDES, the state development bank, and Bradespar, a daughter of Brazil’s second largest private bank.
  • Key reason for the Brazilian government to push for replacement of mr. Agnelli is the conflict of interests between the company’s shareholders and the Brazilian government. Vale focused on cost cutting in the crisis while the government would have liked the company to keep employment high; Vale had ore carriers build in Asia, while the government would have like to have domestic shipyards build the ships; Vale tries to minimize taxes and royalties paid, while the government tries to maximize revenues.

Implications:

  • As long as iron ore prices stay high the change of leadership is not likely to have a major impact on Vale’s international behavior. The company will likely get more closely involved in Brazilian steelmaking, potentially allying with Gerdau in development of domestic projects. If prices drop, expansion focus will be more centered on Brazil to please the government.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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Vale reports record full year financials

February 28, 2011 Comments off

“Vale, the world’s largest iron ore miner, reported record net profit for last year as demand remained strong in China and nickel volumes recovered. The company on Thursday said it earned net profit of $17.26bn in 2010, more than three times what it made a year earlier, as sales reached $46.48bn, nearly double the $23.94bn of revenue in 2009.

Asia accounted for more than 53 per cent of operating revenue, with China contributing more than 33 per cent and Japan 11 per cent.”

Source: Financial Times, February 25 2011

Observations:

  • Revenue for 2010 is 21% higher than the previous record of 2008. EBIT, EBITDA and Net Earnings are up over 30% since 2008 as the EBITDA margin increased by 6%, mainly driven by higher iron ore prices. Earnings per Share of $3.25 are on the top side of analyst expectations.
  • The company is working on iron ore expansion projects in Carajás (Northern Brazil) and the new Simandou deposit in Guinea. Apolo (Brazil’s Southeast system) and Carajás Serra Sul are further down the line of expanding production, planned to be delivered in 2014. Ferrous minerals accounted for 92% of adjusted EBIT over 2010, showing the company’s large dependence on iron ore prices.
  • Expansion for non-ferrous commodities mainly takes place outside Brazil: Mozambique’s Moatize coal project; Zambia’s Konkola North copper project; Argentina’s Rio Colorado fertilizer project; and Peru’s Bayovar fertilizer expansion signify the increasing international presence of the company.

Implications:

  • The improved gross margin of the company does not indicate it has costs under control, but mainly that prices were higher. Vale did not suffer from exchange rate fluctuations as much as its peers as most of its costs are incurred in currencies linked to the dollar, but it mentions cost pressures in the areas of depreciation (resulting from expansion of the equipment fleet) and in procurement.
  • Cash position of $10bln at the end of 2010 and the outlook to beat last year’s cash flow from operations of $20bln in 2011 gives Agnelli a lot of flexibility in expanding. Vale will have to use the pile of cash to build a sustainable position among the supermajors even if iron ore prices come down. As the senior management indicates no major acquisitions will be done, the company will focus on organic growth (33 projects to be delivered by 2015) to achieve this objective.
  • When presenting the results no mention was made of election of a new CEO for Vale. Reelection of Roger Agnelli when his current term ends in March is not fully certain as tensions with the government are mentioned. Henrique Meirelles, Brazil’s former central bank governor, and base metals chief Tito Botelho Martins would be potential candidates to succeed him. The decision will have to be made by the powers behind Vale: the Brazilian government, Pension fund Previ and Banco Bradesco, and Mitsui.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Diamond prices help De Beers rediscover its sparkle

February 14, 2011 Comments off

“De Beers returned to profitability last year after a lossmaking 2009, raising fresh questions about the future ownership of the world’s biggest miner and marketer of diamonds. Perennial speculation about a De Beers flotation or buy-out by Anglo American, its largest shareholder, was damped during a downturn that saw the privately held company record a net loss of $743m in 2009.

Last year, however, it rebounded with net profits of $546m (£341m), as consumer demand lifted diamond prices by an average 27 per cent and cost-cutting paid off. Sales rose from $3.8bn to $5.9bn, and pre-tax profits jumped from $93m to $863m. In mining circles diamonds are now being discussed as a commodity with post-crisis attractions similar to those of copper, reflecting rising demand in Asia combined with insufficient supply.”

Source: Financial Times, February 11 2011

Observations:

  • De Beers Société Anonyme (DBsa), has three shareholders: Anglo American (45%), Central Holdings (40% – representing the Oppenheimer family) and the Government of the Republic of Botswana (15%). (Source: debeersgroup.com)
  • Industry analysts expect the increasing demand in Asia to sustain a period in which demand outstrips supply for jewellery-quality diamonds.

Implications:

  • The return to profitability brings new pressure on Anglo American to push for a change of shareholder structure. The government of Botswana currently gains most of the earnings of the Debswana business, although it only holds 15% of the shares of De Beers. Buying out the government might be the only way in which Anglo could gain a larger share of the income, but it is unlikely that the Oppenheimer family will agree with Anglo gaining the majority of the shares.
  • The new CEO will need to lead the company in a new phase of development and capital expenditures, after Penny turned the sustainability performance around and reduced costs. A healthy profit will certainly make this job easier, as the shareholders might be unwilling to pitch in much more capital.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Newcrest Earnings Surge as CEO Steps Down

February 11, 2011 Comments off

“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

Top 10 Priorities of Vale’s CEO Roger Agnelli

September 2, 2010 2 comments

Roger Agnelli

What are the things the CEO of the world’s second largest mining company is worried about? What is Vale’s CEO Roger Agnelli doing to catch up with BHP Billiton? What is on top of his “To Do”-list?

An analysis of Vale’s latest annual and financial reports, investor presentations and the news about the company in the last months yields a list of 10 issues that are likely to be at the top of Agnelli’ list of priorities.

The list holds strategic, operational, financial and relational activities, each of which are scored in terms of importance and urgency. Priority 1 on the list is trying to prevent BHP’s acquisition of PotashCorp. Priority 10 is managing breakthrough innovation of copper processing in Carajás. Read on for the full list of priorities.

1. Assess opportunities to prevent BHP Billiton’s PotashCorp acquisition

BHP Billiton has made a hostile $39bln acquisition offer for PotashCorp, thus following Vale’s move of entering the potash business as a diversified miner. However, the potential changes to the market and to potash pricing (currently controlled by regional cartels) are likely to make Vale’s potash assets uncompetitive. Although the company has denied being in talks with PotashCorp to find alternatives, Agnelli will certainly devote a large portion of his time to finding a response to BHP’s offer.

2. Manage integration programs to reduce costs

Vale has grown rapidly partly because of a large number of acquisitions. Insiders comment that many of the acquired companies have never been integrated completely, creating operational inefficiencies and a lack of corporate culture. To sustain growth, Agnelli will be working hard on realizing the synergies from acquisitions by building global businesses. Part of this assignment is the carve-out of the aluminium business, which has been sold to Norsk Hydro this year.

3. Anticipate on Brazilian election results

Brazil will elect a new president, senate and governors on October 3rd 2010. Both economic policy and environmental policy on federal and state level could be impacted significantly by election results. Agnelli is certainly developing scenarios to react on post-election regulatory changes.

4. Study increase of gearing in order to accelerate growth

The company has traditionally grown by M&A, but is currently guarding its gearing carefully. However, in order to enable further acquisitions, Agnelli will be discussing increasing the gearing and accessing debt with the new CFO Cavalcanti, who took over from Fabio Barbosa at the end of June, and banking partners.

5. Compete for position in China

Compared to BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, transportation distance poses a disadvantage to Vale in supplying iron ore to China. While Rio Tinto is creating strong ties with Chinese government via its partnerships with Chinalco, Vale will need to find alternative ways to improve relationships with clients and government in the country that is responsible for most of the growth in demand of its products.

6. Manage development of Guinean iron ore deposits

An important part of the growth of the iron ore production in the next decade should be coming from Guinea, where Vale will develop the Simandou South deposit. Vale will need to get infrastructure in place and start development soon in order to please the government, which recently took development rights away from Rio Tinto because the company was not proceeding fast enough.

7. Reduce iron dependence

Growing the copper business unit and building a fertilizer business are two of the ways in which Vale tries to reduce its dependence on iron ore. Although the iron ore business is a star business with solid growth perspectives, the volatility caused by the dependence on one single commodity will worry Agnelli. Diversification into other business units is crucial for the long-term stability of the company.

8. Gain access to coal in Latin America

Although a lot of iron ore is shipped to China, Brazil is booming too. In order to produce steel for the domestic market, Vale needs to develop coal capacity in Latin America, which will require strategic acquisitions and targeted exploration.

9. Manage employee relations after Vale Inco strike

The board will need to prevent repetition of strikes like they experienced at Vale Inco during the last two years in Canada. Reviewing and improving international employee relations is both crucial for the company’s productivity and to improve the image in labor market, where Vale still has difficulties to attract international management talent.

10. Manage technological processing innovation for copper in Carajás

The company is trying to scale hydrometallurgical copper processing technology to commercial level in the Carajás UHC plant. Success in this project would have significant profit impact and would position Vale with the current deposits in development as one of the most competitive copper producers globally.

Sources: Vale annual report 2009, Vale summary review 2009, Vale investor presentation February 2010

De Beers CEO steps down after buoyant H1

July 23, 2010 Comments off

“De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer, said that its chief executive has resigned, in a suprise announcement on Friday after reporting a surge in first-half net profits on the back of a rebound in demand.

‘Gareth Penny has advised the board that he believes it is an appropriate time for him to step down,’ a statement said, giving no reason for the move. He will leave in the ‘coming months’ and until a successor is appointed Chief Financial Officer Stuart Brown and Chief Commercial Officer Bruce Cleaver will act as joint CEOs, the firm said.

De Beers, 45 percent owned by mining group Anglo American, said net earnings rose to $255 million including one-off items from $3 million last year. Anglo said it will report an underlying profit of $148 million from De Beers. Rough diamond sales surged 84 percent to $2.6 billion and production more than doubled to 15.4 million carats from 6.6 million.”

Source: Reuters, July 23, 2010

Observations:

  • The rough diamond demand increased by 84%, mainly driven by consumer demand in Asia. No mention was made of changing demand for industrial diamonds.
  • Gareth Penny announced to step down as CEO, a position he has held since March 2006. With the company recovering after the global crisis he deems this a good moment to leave.

Implications:

  • The enormous increase in output of the diamond miner indicates a strong ability to tailor production levels to demand. One of the key achievements mr. Penny has been to turn the company from a supply driven to a more demand driven organization.
  • As no internal promotion to CEO has been announced, DeBeers will likely appoint a senior AngloAmerican official or an external diamond-expert.

©2010 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Top 10 Priorities of BHP Billiton’s CEO Marius Kloppers

May 28, 2010 Comments off

Marius Kloppers

What are the things the CEO of the world’s largest mining company is doing? What keeps BHP Billiton’s CEO Marius Kloppers awake at night? What are the categories of his “To Do”-list?

An analysis of BHP Billiton’s latest annual & financial reports, investor presentations and the news about the company in the last months yields a list of 10 issues that are likely to be at the top of Kloppers’ list of priorities. The list holds strategic, operational, financial and relational activities, each of which are scored in terms of importance and urgency. Priority 1 on the list is the lobby on the new Australian mining tax. Priority 10 is improvement of the safety record of the company. Read on for the full list of priorities.

Priority 1 – Lobby against Australian mining tax

The campaign against the super profits tax proposed by the Australian government is currently on top of the list of the CEO. Corporate profits are projected to decrease by over 15% if the proposal is implemented without changes.

Priority 2 – Screen potential acquisition targets

With BHPB’s strong balance sheet and the failed take-over of Rio Tinto in the back of the mind the company will be looking for acquisition targets. Growth by acquisitions should help the company to meet achieve positive growth again in 2010. There are rumours that the company is on the verge of announcing acquisitions in the petroleum business.

Priority 3 – Complete cost cutting projects to restore margin

The margin has taken a major hit in the past two years. Kloppers will need to show the shareholders he is able to restore the margin by cutting costs. Especially the aluminum and stainless steel metals business units will need to cut costs significantly.

Priority 4 – Manage Pilbara Iron ore investment

The iron ore project in Western Australia is by far the largest capital project of the company at this moment. The structure of a JV with Rio Tinto makes additional executive attention is required in order to align the operations and to ramp up production quickly.

Priority 5 – Refinance debt while retaining credit rating

A significant part of BHP Billiton’s debt needs to be refinanced in the coming years. The companies strong balance sheet has helped it to achieve an “A” credit rating. Kloppers will be working hard with the Alex Vanselow, the CFO, to retain this favourable position.

Priority 6 – Get new petroleum projects on steam

Fuel costs are the most important driver of costs in the mining industry. Having a strong petroleum business unit helps to hedge against the likely price increases of oil. BHP has six capital petroleum project in the execution phase (Turrum, Pyrenees and NWS North Rankin B being the largest). The CEO will keep a close watch on the development of these projects.

Priority 7 – Reduce portfolio dependency on steel making

The percentage of BHP Billiton’s sales related to steel making has increased in the past 5 years from approx. 50% to approx. 70%. Although this means the company is well positioned to benefit from China’s growth, it does pose a great risk of volatility. Kloppers will be looking for opportunities to strengthen the aluminium, base metals and diamond business to cover this risk.

Priority 8 – Align with Jack Nasser, the new chairman

Don Argus has retired as chairman and Jac Nasser has started in this position. As the position of any CEO is subject of continuous questions, Kloppers will make sure he is aligning with the new chairman.

Priority 9 – Position for Chinese and Indian growth

BHP expects India to follow the growth trajectory of China. However, the current infrastructure of the company is not yet aligned with the large part of consumption of its goods in Asia. Kloppers will be working on strengthening the focus of both the supply chain and the marketing departments.

Priority 10 – Improve safety record

In 2009 the company had 7 fatalities in its operations. Kloppers will be concerned about getting the safety at all operations at par. Public and legal opinion pressure the executives to undertake additional action.

Link to this article: http://www.thebusinessofmining.com/2010/05/28/BHPBPriorities

Sources: BHP Billiton annual report 2009, BHP Billiton summary review 2009, BHP Billiton investor presentation February 2010