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Thursday, 9 July 2009

What they don't teach you at the Harvard Business School

Takeover battles are usually about share price performance and profits growth but the tussle between the mining giants Xstrata and Anglo American has taken an unusual turn with a crass, sexist attack on Anglo's chief executive, Cynthia Carroll.

One of the few women to head a large UK firm, she has become the target of a tirade from Anglo's former deputy chairman, Graham Boustred, 84, who told South Africa's Business Day: "This woman's hopeless. There's no morale [at Anglo]."

Boustred then suggests that it is difficult finding a female chief executive "because most women are sexually frustrated. Men are not because they can fall back on call girls. If you have a CEO who is sexually frustrated, she can't act properly."

They obviously teach business differently in South Africa. Which is probably why Anglo American have named Sir John Parker, chairman of National Grid since 2002, as its new chairman.

However, this may prove unpopular with the government in South Africa, who were pressing for a black chairman, saying this would be a "positive signal".

Still, better not to have too many "hopeless" people at the top.

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