For a while there, Sam Walsh could not appear at an industry conference without Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg using the same event to pick apart his performance as chief executive of Rio Tinto.
There were jibes about Rio flooding the market with iron ore, the suggestions that Rio was not a truly diversified miner, and the personal taunts about the comparatively small number of Rio shares that Walsh owned.
The motive behind the campaign became clear in October 2014, when Rio revealed that it had rebuffed a merger proposal from Glencore.
So it is not surprising that Walsh, a Melbourne-raised sexagenarian, was not shy in sending a few barbs back the other way this week, comfortable in the knowledge that the circle of life has turned dramatically for both companies over the past year.
“The board was very thoughtful and meticulous in the approach that Glencore made … the board was adamant and unanimous in terms of their rejection of the proposal. I am not aware of any shareholders who were supportive of such a transaction so a rejection by Rio wasn’t actually a surprise to shareholders,” said Walsh this week, on a visit to his home town.
“I think the issues that the board focused on at the time, the major issues in relation to [Glencore’s] debt, assets and culture, I mean quite frankly they haven’t changed.”
The stalking predator has since given up the chase; Glencore has become a shadow of its former self losing 70 per cent of its market capitalisation since April and is now selling assets in a bid to quickly clear $US10 billion of debt.
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