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The Board of AngloGold Ashanti (ANG) under its chairman‚ former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni‚ has initiated a formal search for a new Chief Executive Officer of the company following the resignation of Mark Cutifani who has accepted an offer to take over the helm as CEO at resources giant Anglo American plc.

Both internal and external candidates would be considered for the position‚ the board said.

In the interim‚ the board has asked Chief Financial Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan (Venkat) and Executive Vice President Business & Technical Development Tony O’Neill to act as joint interim Chief Executives‚ with Venkat responsible for all Finance and Corporate functions and Tony responsible for all Operations‚ Projects (including ERP and procurement) and Technical functions.

“Both executives are well suited for their interim roles with strong track records at AngloGold Ashanti and in the mining industry. Venkat has held positions at AngloGold and Ashanti Goldfields since 2000 and has been Chief Financial Officer of AngloGold Ashanti since 2005. Tony‚ who will join the board of directors in coming weeks‚ joined AngloGold Ashanti in 2008 and has had an extensive career in mining since 1978. Both Venkat and Tony have indicated to the Board of Directors that they are not at this time intending to put themselves forward for the position of CEO‚” the company stated.

Cutifani‚ whose appointment as CEO of Anglo American is effective April 3‚ will remain in the role of CEO of AngloGold Ashanti until March 31.

Commenting on Cutifani’s intended departure‚ AngloGold Ashanti chairman Tito Mboweni said: “I would like to thank Mark for five years of inspirational leadership‚ during which time he transformed the business. Mark led a significant operations and financial turnaround with industry-leading returns‚ and built a leadership team with outstanding breadth and depth. I am indebted to Mark for successfully navigating many difficult aspects of the global business and for setting the company up for long-term success.”

Since the launch of AngloGold’s new strategy under Cutifani at the beginning of 2008‚ safety has improved by some 70%‚ the hedge book has been eliminated and the balance sheet rebuilt‚ the operating performance of several key assets have been improved and key growth projects are scheduled to start production in the next 12 months. Earnings before interest‚ tax‚ depreciation and amortisation almost tripled over that time‚ outpacing gains in the gold price. Cutifani also initiated a comprehensive business improvement and people-focused intervention – Project One – which continues to drive stability and improved performance across the business.

Commenting on his departure‚ Cutifani said: “It’s been a privilege working with the Board and my colleagues to rebuild our operations and financial foundations and deliver industry-leading capital returns‚ whilst developing a project pipeline to deliver long-term sustainable value. But it’s the focus on people‚ the rebuilding of the management team and their delivery of significant safety‚ environment and community development improvements‚ that will help AngloGold Ashanti prosper in the long term.” - I-Net Bridge