LONDON -- The shares of Anglo American
Ms. Carroll said it was a "very difficult decision to leave" the FTSE 100 (UKX) member but felt "the time will be right" to hand over to a successor.
"It has been a great honor to lead Anglo American. I am extremely proud of everything we have achieved during my period as chief executive," she added.
However, leading shareholders may not be as proud as Ms. Carroll of her achievements.
She was appointed boss of Anglo during March 2007, and was the first female, first non-South African, and first external applicant to be given the top job. Since then, Anglo's performance has lagged that of the wider mining sector.
In particular, Ms. Carroll's tenure has seen Anglo's annual dividend cut from 124 U.S. cents to 74 U.S. cents, with a non-payment occurring in 2009. During the same time, however, BHP Billiton has more than doubled its dividend, while Rio Tinto has lifted its payment by 61%.
A Motley Fool study last year placed Ms. Carroll at the bottom of the FTSE 100 league table for dividend-orientated bosses. During 2011, she collected a 1 million pound-plus salary that dwarfed the estimated 30,000 pounds she received through dividends from her ordinary Anglo shareholding.
Since Ms. Carroll's appointment, Anglo's operational performance has been dogged by protracted legal challenges and license delays at large mining projects in Chile and Brazil.
In addition, this year Anglo suffered from strike action among South African miners. Earlier this month, Anglo's platinum operation in South Africa fired 12,000 striking employees and admitted 80 million pounds of production had been lost.
During July, Anglo admitted that half-year profits for 2012 had collapsed 46% to $1.7 billion.
Nonetheless, Anglo's chairman, Sir John Parker, said Friday morning: "Cynthia's leadership has had a transformational impact on Anglo American. … The Board is enormously grateful to Cynthia for her dedication, her hard work and all she has achieved."
Ms. Carroll's departure will mean only two FTSE 100 companies are likely to have female bosses next year. Marjorie Scardino has signaled her intention to quit Pearson, leaving Alison Cooper and Angela Ahrends in charge of Imperial Tobacco and Burberry, respectively.
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Maynard Paton owns no shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Burberry. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.