Johannesburg: AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. has appointed Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, its finance head, as chief executive officer to lead the third-biggest producer of the metal.

The company considered internal and external candidates for the job after Mark Cutifani stepped down as CEO to lead Anglo American Plc on 3 April, leaving Venkatakrishnan, known as Venkat, and executive director Tony O’Neill as joint interim CEOs of AngloGold.

We’re extremely pleased to have an executive of Mr. Venkatakrishnan’s caliber to lead AngloGold Ashanti through the next phase of its development, Tito Mboweni, AngloGold’s chairman, said in a statement.

Venkat’s appointment would provide a seamless transition from Cutifani because he is familiar with AngloGold’s operations, finances and strategy, David Davis, a mining analyst at SBG Securities Ltd. in Johannesburg, said last month. The South African shares of the Johannesburg-based gold miner have dropped 36% this year as gold has fallen to a more than two-year low.

Venkat was the chief financial officer at Ashanti Goldfields until that company’s merger with AngloGold Ltd. in May 2004, creating what is now AngloGold Ashanti, the producer said in its statement. He became CFO of the combined entity and joined the board in 2005.

The company had a proposal to split its South African assets from mines elsewhere rebuffed by the country’s government, three people familiar with the matter said last month. Shareholders including John Paulson, the billionaire whose hedge fund is the largest investor in AngloGold, have said a reorganization would boost the value of its stock.

‘Good work’

Venkat will also remain CFO of AngloGold until further notice as a search for his replacement has been initiated, the company said.

We will build on the good work done over the years in order to realize the value inherent in our portfolio, while placing a sharp focus on returns, margins and free cashflow, Venkat said in the statement.

AngloGold gained 0.5% to 167.75 rand in Johannesburg trading at 8:05 am, valuing the company at about $7.16 billion. BLOOMBERG