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AngloGold Ashanti heads north with plans to switch primary listing to New York

AngloGold Ashanti heads north with plans to switch primary listing to New York
The South African headquarters of AngloGold Ashanti in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 19 December 2007. (Photo: Nadine Hutton / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

AngloGold made the announcement on Friday, the day after the rand crashed to record lows against the dollar. The timing was purely coincidental but both events highlight how investor sentiment towards South Africa has soured.

AngloGold Ashanti plans to move its primary listing from the JSE to New York and its corporate domicile to London. The moves were expected as the company no longer has operational assets in South Africa. It’s called “derisking” your business and South Africa’s risk profile is a turn-off for investors and capital markets. 

AngloGold made the announcement on Friday, the day after the rand crashed to record lows against the dollar. The timing was purely coincidental but both events highlight how investor sentiment towards South Africa has soured.  

“A primary listing in the US is expected to create enhanced access to the world’s deepest pools of capital, including the opportunity to improve share trading liquidity,” AngloGold said in a statement. “A corporate domicile in the UK uses a well proven, low-risk and attractive jurisdiction for the AngloGold Ashanti Group and minimises incremental costs for shareholders.”  

AngloGold disposed of its last operational assets in South Africa in 2020 when it sold Mponeng, the world’s deepest mine, to Harmony Gold. So the writing has been on the wall for the past three years.  

AngloGold will keep a secondary listing on the JSE and in Ghana, where it has a significant operational presence. The South African Reserve Bank has already given its approval, which still requires a green light from at least 75% of AngloGold’s shareholders.  

The Johannesburg office, with 280 employees, will continue to function and the listing exercise will have no impact on its headcount. The transaction will cost $500-million and should be completed by September.  

AngloGold believes that it trades at a 25% discount to its rivals and that a New York listing will help to polish its rating with investors.  

“A US primary listing is expected, in time, to facilitate greater performance and valuation comparisons with the AngloGold Ashanti Group’s more liquid and higher valued North American peers,” the company said.  

Ultimately, this completes AngloGold’s separation from South Africa, the country that is deeply connected to its own history.  

But South Africa’s star as a destination for mining capital has faded over the past couple of decades. Geology is part of the story, as the massive gold mines of the Witwatersrand have plunged deeper while grades have declined. 

But the main reasons have nothing to do with geology. Policy uncertainty, social and labour unrest, soaring costs and the multiple failures of the South African state, from Eskom to Transnet, have all undermined the country’s investment case for mining. 

South Africa remains stuck near the bottom of the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mining jurisdictions, and new mining listings on the JSE are almost as rare as hen’s teeth.  

Now there is a primary delisting for a company that began this trek years ago. DM/BM

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