No reason was given for his resignation.Graham Briggs, managing director of Harmony Australasia, was appointed acting chief executive, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement to the city`s stock exchange on Monday.
In addition, Andre Wilkens has been appointed to Harmony`s board of directors as non-executive director.
Shares of Harmony Gold fell the most in more than five years.
Since taking over in 1995, Swanepoel has expanded Harmony almost sixfold by buying South African mines, closing down some that were unprofitable and cutting costs at others. The company still failed to post a profit in 10 of the last 15 quarters and on Monday reported a loss in the three months to June 30. His biggest bid, an attempt to buy Gold Fields Ltd for US$3.8 billion, failed. “You can see from stock price that he was extremely important to Harmony,” said Ferdi Dippenaar, who worked alongside Swanepoel for nine years before leaving to become CEO of Great Basin Gold Ltd in December 2005. “He could rally the troops, make them believe in a common cause and get them to deliver.” Shares of Harmony fell R11.30, or 12%, to R84.50 as of 3:50 pm Johannesburg time, after earlier declining as low as R83.79. Harmony has a market value of R33.8 billion rand (US$4.7 billion). (August 6 Bloomberg).