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Billionaire Agarwal hires AngloGold's CEO to run Vedanta

LONDON] Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal's Vedanta Resources Plc named AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.'s Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan as its new chief executive officer as the diversified miner ended a year-long search for a new boss.

Mr Venkatakrishnan, who takes over from interim CEO Kuldip Kaura, will leave Johannesburg-based AngloGold on Aug. 30 and join Vedanta a day later, the companies said in separate statements Monday. The 53-year-old has been at Africa's biggest gold producer for 18 years, including five as CEO.

Mr Agarwal, who is also mining giant Anglo American Plc's biggest shareholder, had been searching for a candidate to lead Vedanta since announcing that former Rio Tinto Group CEO Tom Albanese was stepping down. Under Mr Venkatakrishnan's leadership, AngloGold has reduced its so-called all-in sustaining costs by 16 per cent and cut debt by one-third, the company said. AngloGold has started a search to replace him.

"Venkat is a widely respected business leader in the global resources space, who brings to Vedanta an impressive set of values and a wealth of experience in corporate and other roles," Mr Agarwal said in a statement. "He also has a strong track record managing a complex portfolio of operating assets and projects across Africa." Stock Performance Vedanta's shares have lost 4 per cent in the past year, valuing the company at about US$2.8 billion. AngloGold's stock has dropped 37 per cent in the same period and is now worth US$3.8 billion.

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Mr Agarwal surprised Anglo American's management last year when he took a 21 per cent stake in the company. He has been a vocal supporter of South Africa, where Vedanta is set to begin production at its new Gamsberg zinc mine this year, and has argued that Anglo American should remain committed to its assets in the country.

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