The great white shark of the mining industry is swimming into retirement. Ivan Glasenberg announced last week that he will leave Glencore by mid-2021 after spending 18 years running a company that combined the biggest commodities trader with one of the biggest mining operations.
Along the way, the South African billionaire became famous, and infamous, for his high-risk manoeuvres, straight-talking style and sheer aggression.
The first half of Mr. Glasenberg’s reign, when he rode the China-driven commodities boom for everything it was worth, making fortunes along the way, had greater success than the last half.
His biggest mistake was taking a pass on iron ore, the commodity whose prices have defied gravity and propelled Glencore’s rivals – Rio Tinto and BHP among them – to new heights. Supply constraints have helped to more than double iron ore prices to US$150 a tonne in the past two years alone
Nor did landing in the gun sights of the U.S. Department of Justice endear Glencore to investors.