Anglo American Platinum slides on surprise CEO exit plan

(Reuters) -Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats) shares fell more than 5% on Wednesday after the South African miner said its CEO would step down next year to become operations chief at U.S.-based gold miner Newmont Corporation.

Natascha Viljoen, who has been at the helm of the world’s biggest platinum group metals miner since April 2020, will continue as CEO until the completion of her 12-month notice period, Amplats said in a statement.

“While I have identified the next phase of my career, my commitment to delivering our clear objectives during this year is as firm as ever, beginning, of course, with keeping our people safe, every day,” Viljoen said.

Amplats shares ended the day down 5.3% at their lowest level since the end of September.

Viljoen’s departure comes as a surprise to the market, especially given her strong operational skills, said Unathi Loos, portfolio manager at Ninety One in Cape Town.

“Given the various operational challenges Amplats has faced over the last two years and the expansion challenges around Mogalakwena, it is concerning to see her leave now,” Loos said.

A process engineer, Viljoen was group head of processing at Anglo American before her appointment as Amplats CEO. She has also held leadership roles at AngloGold Ashanti and was the general manager of Klipspruit Colliery, which was previously owned by global mining giant BHP.

Amplats Board Chairman Norman Mbazima said the process to nominate Viljoen’s successor was underway.

(Reporting by Nelson Banya, Additional reporting by Helen ReidEditing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)