As Glencore grows, investors ask about life after Ivan

Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:24am EDT
 
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By Clara Ferreira-Marques and Sinead Cruise

LONDON (Reuters) - Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.L: Quote) boss Ivan Glasenberg, a former coal trader who has been at the helm for over a decade, is known for his pre-dawn runs, cut-throat competitiveness and a grueling travel schedule that shows no signs of slowing.

Yet while no one expects the imminent departure of Glencore's top shareholder - at 56, not far above the average CEO age - the takeover of $46 billion miner Xstrata has prompted investor questions over how a company so closely identified with a boss will manage his succession.

This includes not just the process of earmarking future leaders, but that of rebuilding the board and bringing in a new chairman willing to act as a counterweight to both Glasenberg and a culture born of almost four decades as a private company.

"On the one hand you don't want to stifle the entrepreneurialism, aggression, dynamism that people associate with Glencore versus the style of the other mining companies," said analyst Paul Gait at Sanford Bernstein.

"But on the other hand, you do want to put into place the processes and protocols that you associate with a bluechip company," he added.

Glencore - the world's largest diversified commodities trader and fourth largest miner - fiercely values loyalty and insiders argue it has a deep pool of internal talent.

Every one of its current, mostly long-standing divisional heads, they say, is a potential CEO, even if the company has a strategy of keeping employees to specific commodities throughout their careers. This, Glencore says, is key for a business that demands detailed technical knowledge and a deep understanding.

But the key public role played Glasenberg since Glencore's listing in 2011 makes it hard to separate his straight-talking, pugnacious appeal from that of the now much broader company.   Continued...

 
Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg attends the first day of trading at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in this May 25, 2011 file photo. Glencore Xstrata boss Ivan Glasenberg, a former coal trader who has been at the helm for over a decade, is known for his pre-dawn runs, cut-throat competitiveness and a gruelling travel schedule that shows no signs of slowing. Yet while no one expects the imminent departure of Glencore's top shareholder - at 56, not far above the average CEO age - the takeover of $46 billion miner Xstrata has prompted investor questions over how a company so closely identified with a boss will manage his succession. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/Files