Tony Trahar

Chief executive officer, Anglo American

Nationality: South African.

Born: June 1, 1949, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Education: University of the Witwatersrand, St. John's College, BC, 1970.

Family: Son of Thomas Walter and Thelma Ashmead Bartlett Trahar; married Patricia Jane (maiden name unknown); children: two.

Career: A. Whiteley Brothers (now Deloitte & Touche), 1973, served articles; Anglo American Corporation of SA Ltd., 1974, management trainee, finance division; 1991–, executive director; 1976–1977, public accountant; Anglo American Industrial Corporation, 1982–1986, finance director; 1992–, deputy chairman; Mondi Ltd., 1984–2003, chairman; Mondi Paper Co., 1989–, executive chairman; Neusiedler AG, 1990–, deputy chairman; Frantschach AG, 1992–, deputy chairman; Mondi Europe 1993–2003, chairman; South African Motor Corporation Ltd., 1996–2000, chairman; AECI Ltd., 1999–2001, chairman; Anglo Forest Products, 1999–2003, chairman; Anglo Industrial Minerals Division, 1999–, chairman; Anglo American PLC, 1999–2000, executive director; 2000–, chief executive officer; Mondi International, 1999–, chairman.

Awards: Business Leader of the Month, Sunday Times Business Times , 2003.

Address: Anglo American, 20 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AN, United Kingdom;

■ Anthony ("Tony") Trahar was chief executive officer of Anglo American, the world's second-largest mining conglomerate, operating in more than 60 countries. Anglo American was world leader in platinum mining and a major player in the harvest of other natural resources, including gold, diamonds, coal, building aggregates, and forestry products. Trahar instituted a major structural change that took the company from what industry analysts called a "stuffy post-colonial institution" to a highly diversified and well-balanced conglomerate ( Sunday Times Business Times , October 12, 2003). He also initiated the first program in South Africa that provided free antietroviral therapy to employees with HIV infection.


According to an article in the Sunday Times of Zambia, Trahar intended to be an architect but ended up "redesigning and overseeing one of the worlds biggest resource companies" (October 12, 2003). His plethora of titles included chairmanships of the Anglo American executive committee, the South African Motor Corporation, Anglo Forest Products, Anglo Industrial Minerals, and Palaeo Anthropological Scientific. Directorships included AngloGold, Anglo Platinum, Highveld Steel, Scaw Metals, Del Monte Royal Foods, and McCarthy Retail. Trahar was managing director and executive chairman of the Anglo American's paper company, Mondi Packaging, and deputy chairman of Frantschach, the largest pulp and paper group in Austria. Trahar was a member of the Anglo American safety, health and environment committee, the South African Foundation, the executive committee of the World Wildlife Fund for southern Africa, and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Trahar firmly believed in free enterprise and market economy. He developed clear-cut structures and staff incentives for transforming Anglo American into a disciplined, stable, and diversified industry leader. Trahar said, "The group offers a unique mix of geographic and product diversity which insulates it from the volatility associated with single product cycles," according to an article posted on the Anglo American Web site (February 25, 2004). One of Trahar's first major accomplishments as chief executive was to simplify the complicated cross-shareholding relationship between Anglo American and De Beers, the world's largest diamond-mining company, with which Anglo American had had a relationship since the 1920s. Trahar described as transformational and risky the 2001 deal in which Anglo American invested US$19 billion for 45 percent of De Beers shares, but he also called it a deal that paid off handsomely in the end. The De Beers contribution to Anglo's profits for the six months to June 2003 was $248 million, or 29 percent of Anglo's $856 million headline profits.


By 2002 Anglo American was one of only two high-profile international companies with a strong South African heritage that was run by a South African. Yet Trahar continued to draw criticism from some sectors: "For anyone with the slightest tendency towards political correctness, Tony Trahar has to be a hate figure from central casting. Not only does he preside over Anglo American—for some a neat shorthand for economic imperialism—he is white, male, South African and, at 54, old enough to have prospered under apartheid," read an article in the Sunday Times (March 8, 2004).

Trahar was challenged with keeping his massive conglomerate on track financially while addressing serious social, political, and racially charged issues. Evidence of Trahar's skill was that in 2002 Anglo American was the only South African company to make the Forbes Global 500 list of the world's largest public companies. Heidi Brown noted that although Anglo American was still managed entirely by whites while its 140,000 miners laboring underground were black, "Under Anthony Trahar, it plans to offer African employees treatment for the HIV virus. The company also has a venture-capital program that is aimed at developing black-owned suppliers to Anglo American. Just as impressive has been the outfit's financial performance, helping the London-listed shares outperform the FTSE [Financial Times Stock Exchange] 100" (July 22, 2002).

Perhaps the most widely praised social initiative implemented by Trahar was in regard to HIV/AIDS. Although originally opposed to the idea, Trahar initiated a program under which Anglo became the first corporation in South Africa to provide free antiretroviral treatment to employees with HIV infection. Trahar ultimately acknowledged that perhaps the biggest challenge the company faced in South Africa was HIV/AIDS. "No one can afford to be complacent about the devastating social consequences of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. We believe that businesses, governments and society need to urgently join forces in a massively scaled up effort to turn the tide of the epidemic," he wrote in an article on Mineweb in which he defined Anglo's development vision (August 29, 2002). At that time, an estimated 25 percent of Anglo's 130,000 southern African employees were infected with the virus. Anglo subsequently partnered with LoveLife, a national HIV prevention program, and contributed R 30 million in 2002.

In 2002 Trahar faced another challenge. The government enacted the South African Mining Charter, a black empowerment legislation that mandated racial employment and stock ownership quotas. Mining companies were to attain 40 percent black management within five years. Trahar acted swiftly. In 2003 he appointed Lazarus Zim, the former managing director of the cellular service provider MTN International, as his right-hand man. The hiring was contrary to Anglo's traditional policy of appointment from within. Asked in an inter-view with Mineweb whether the appointment was prompted by the charter, Trahar answered, "It certainly is, and it's at a very senior level. If we are asking our operating businesses to undergo transformation, I think we have to show willingness at the center of Anglo American to be part of that process" (August 24, 2003). Trahar also acknowledged that achieving the 40 percent quota so quickly while retaining quality leadership would be a major challenge.

Trahar had the ability to act swiftly when necessary but also developed a reputation as a long-term thinker. The latter was apparent in 2004 when Anglo's iron ore mining project at Hope Downs, Pilbara, Australia, was delayed. Trahar watched rival companies BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto expand rapidly to supply a heavy Chinese demand for iron. Trahar commented to James Chessell, of the Sydney Morning Herald , "Anglo American is a long-term player and some of the great strategic positions have been built over 20, 30 years. So if it takes us 10 years to build a position in iron ore then we are prepared to take that long-term view" (March 19, 2004).


Trahar's extensive experience with a huge conglomerate in a widely diversified international environment overflowed into a larger arena. He became a spokesman and advocate for the natural resources industry, particularly in developing countries, while displaying a heightened sense of awareness regarding corporate responsibility. Trahar believed that while the first responsibility of a company was to provide secure returns for shareholders, long-term success could be attained only with a sustainable development agenda that included political, social, and economic issues germane to each country in which any multinational corporation operated. Trahar criticized greed and short-term pressures to perform, which in the early twenty-first century sank share prices of several major corporations, brought demise to others, and wrecked public confidence in corporate ethics and accountability. "There should be no contradiction between healthy capitalism and a vision of development which is sustainable. By which I mean a realistic attempt to strike a balance between the economic, social and environmental aspects of the bottom line," he commented in his Mineweb article (August 29, 2002). Observing in the article that there remained an "instinctive suspicion" from many sectors about profit motive, Trahar declared that while companies such as WorldCom and Enron heightened such suspicion, profit was pivotal to the market economy. Profit not only paid employees' wages but also had to fund the pensions of "our ultimate investors. Immediate profit maximization will not always be the right answer in ensuring the long-term sustainability of a business. But without economic viability, the other elements of the triple bottom line are lost."

Trahar addressed criticism by the Extractive Industries Review, which represented antiglobalization protesters. The Review declared that mineral wealth was detrimental to a country's development because it concentrated wealth too narrowly, created opportunities for corruption, and provided resources for people to fight over. In addition, the export of resources caused inflation that adversely affected other economic sectors. Trahar countered in his Mineweb article: "I believe that [the Review's] analysis is profoundly wrong and that the wise exploitation of mineral wealth has great potential to drive development. It is poor governance, corruption and macro-economic mismanagement which have dissipated the beneficial effects of mineral development in some countries, not the exploitation of mineral deposits" (August 29, 2002). Trahar continued that the industrialization of the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa was grounded in the exploitation of natural resources and was paramount in Australia, South Africa, Chile, and Botswana: "There is unquestionably a need for wise macro-economic management of the revenues and Chile's revenue stabilisation fund is one successful model for doing this."


Addressing concerns for developing nations, Trahar outlined in the Mineweb article (August 29, 2002) concepts he believed imperative if private investment flows to those nations were to increase. First, the developed world must "play fair" in the world trade system. Trahar criticized the European Union and U.S. agricultural subsidies for wrecking food trade operations and blamed tariffs for effectively keeping many products out of Latin America and Africa. Second, Trahar challenged governments of developed countries to keep promises made in early 2002 to ensure the more efficient and effective flow of aid to health, education, and poverty alleviation. Third, Trahar spoke to the need for standards of governance, particularly in relation to human rights, corruption, and the law. Fourth, he said a more collaborative effort was needed between multinational companies and leading nongovernment organizations because "despite their 'bogeyman' status in some quarters, the evidence suggests that multinationals pay better, work to high environmental standards and bring extra benefits to their host countries through technology transfer."

On the other hand, Trahar acknowledged in his article fears surrounding globalization and corporate accountability, loss of local control, and what he called cultural imperialism. He quoted President Bill Clinton as saying, "The benefits [of globalization] are all general, while the pain is all specific." Trahar declared that in return for benefits, companies must grapple with new levels of accountability. He cited as an example Anglo's Good Citizenship business principles—guidelines that clearly outlined to employees just what they could expect of the company. Trahar said the company had become more transparent about safety, health, environment, and community issues by extended and increased reporting, particularly at a local level. As to sustainable agendas, Trahar pointed to Anglo's policies pertaining to biodiversity, climate change, and emissions reduction programs. For example, sulfur dioxide emissions from the Anglo Platinum Waterval smelter were expected to be reduced 85 percent and emissions from a cement plant in Buxton, United Kingdom, 60 percent by the end of 2004. Another goal was to receive International Organization for Standardization 14001 certification in all Anglo American operations by the end of 2004.

Trahar also wrote of the company's intention of maximizing beneficial economic and social impact: "I regard getting relations right between an operation and its local communities as amongst the most important management responsibilities. Although mines may produce significant benefits, like jobs and better schools and health care, they are not always easy neighbours" (August 29, 2002). Trahar commented on a personal success in that arena with the Forest Products division of Mondi, which he ran for several years. Through a voluntary, industry-wide initiative with other stakeholders that brought notable improvements in social and environmental issues, Mondi became the leading Forestry Stewardship Council-certified operator in the entire southern hemisphere. "I hope the mining industry can achieve similar results through voluntary initiatives and peer group pressure," he wrote.

See also entry on Anglo American PLC in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

"Anglo American's Resilient Performance Reflects Underlying Strength of Geographic and Product Diversity," February 25, 2004. .

Brown, Heidi, "The Global 500: Winners and Losers," Forbes , July 22, 2002. .

Chessell, James, "Anglo Has Time on Its Side," Sydney Morning Herald , March 19, 2004. .

"Chief Executive's Statement: A Powerful World of Resources," Anglo American annual report, 2001, .

"Company News: Anglo's Top Man Goes to the Heart of Transformation," Sunday Times Business Times , October 12, 2003, .

"The Quintessential Anglo Man," Sunday Times Business Times , March 8, 2004, .

Trahar, Tony, "Anglo's Development Vision—Trahar," Mineweb , August 29, 2002, .

—Marie L. Thompson

User Contributions:

Ron McGregor
Under "Education" this article is very misleading. Tony Trahar was educated at St John's College JOHANNESBURG, not St John's College BC. St John's college is a private secondary school, not a University. He then proceeded to the University of the Witwatersrand for his tertiary education.

For greater accuracy, you should perhaps say: St John's College, Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (1970)

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