Succession: Who will take the reins at Vale?

With the CEO of Brazilian mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE) set to step down this year, the race is on to find a successor. But in an age as weird and unpredictable as ours, who might that be?

New York-based consulting firm Russell Reynolds has been appointed to find the answer and, according to a report by newspaper O Globo on Tuesday, has presented Vale’s board with a list of 15 potential candidates to replace Eduardo Bartolomeo.

Among them are the current heads of major Brazilian firms, including Embraer’s (NYSE:ERJ) Francisco Gomes Neto, Gerdau’s (NYSE:GBB) Gustavo Werneck, and Klabin’s (B3:KLBN4) Christiano Teixeira.

Other names include Volkswagen America chief Pablo Di So, Anglo American’s (LSE:AAL) Ruben Fernandes, Equatorial Energia’s (B3:EQTL3) Carlos Piani, and Engie Brasil’s (B3:EGIE3) Mauricio Bahr.

Notably, Russell Reynold’s list — according to O Globo — featured Pedro Parente, who led Brazil’s state-run oil behemoth Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) from 2016 to 2018, and before that served as chief of staff under former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

In a statement on Tuesday, Vale noted that Russell Reynolds’ succession advice is ongoing, and that the company’s board has not yet decided on a list of candidates.

Last week, Vale said it would “proceed swiftly” to replace two independent board members who resigned in the last few months, with one of them citing allegations of political influence in the CEO succession plan.

In a letter sent in March to Vale’s Chair Daniel Steiler, Jose Luciano Duarte Penido said the plan had “evident and nefarious political influence”, and that there had been frequent and biased leaks to the media “in clear disregard for confidentiality”.

Vale sought to counter the allegation shortly thereafter.

“In light of press reports that reproduce the content of the resignation letter signed by Mr. Jose Luciano Duarte Penido, Vale’s board of directors clarifies that, regarding the process of defining the company’s CEO, its performance is rigorously in compliance with Vale’s bylaws, the body’s internal regulations, and corporate policies,” the company said.

“The board of directors will continue to carry out the actions set in Vale’s governance processes and execute its mission diligently.”

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Written By Oliver Gray
Originally from Perth, Oliver has a keen interest long-form journalism. He has written for a number of publications and was most recently Contributing Editor of The Market Herald’s opinion section, Art of the Essay.