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Platinum seal for veteran chairman

ANGLO American Plc yesterday appointed veteran industrialist John Parker as chairman, moving to bolster its leadership as it seeks to fend off an unwanted "merger of equals" proposal by rival Xstrata Plc.

Analysts said Parker was a strong choice given his management and merger experience, noting that although he made no mention of Xstrata, his first comments reiterated Anglo's arguments that it had strong prospects as a stand-alone group.

RBS analyst Tim Huff said the appointment was a "huge positive strategically."

Michael Rawlinson at Liberum Capital said the appointment may still lead to talks with Xstrata or another suitor, but Parker would first want several months to assess the group.

Anglo, which owns the world's biggest platinum producer, said yesterday Parker would join the board immediately and take up the post held by retiring Mark Moody-Stuarton on August 1.

Parker is chairman of British energy network provider National Grid Plc and will retain that post, but will step down as co-chairman of paper and packaging group Mondi Group. Mondi was spun off from Anglo two years ago.

Anglo has said Xstrata's "nil-premium" proposal does not make sense partly due to what it regards as its own superior mining assets .

It also pointed to its planned US$2 billion cost cuts by 2011 compared with Xstrata's merger synergies forecast of US$1 billion.

Parker offered support for CEO Cynthia Carroll, who has been criticized in some media reports as not being as effective as her counterpart at Xstrata, Mick Davis.

"I look forward to working with the board and the excellent management team led by Cynthia Carroll," he said.


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