If it’s possible to be a low-key billionaire, then Ivan Glasenberg would be the guy to get it right.
61-year-old Glasenberg, who announced his plan to retire in the next few years, is CEO of the world’s biggest commodity trading firm, Glencore.
Glencore buys and sells coal and other commodities, and also owns a number of mines. It is one of the top coal exporters in South Africa, reports Business Insider.
Glasenberg is intensely private. To date, he has only given one media interview, for the University of Southern California’s magazine, which he later had deleted from their website.
That said, when you’re ranked 309th on the world billionaire list, and you’re worth a cool R78 billion, you can’t keep everything under wraps.
Here are five facts about the billionaire that you probably didn’t know:
1. His first boss was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list
In 1983, after getting an MBA from the University of Southern California, Glasenberg went to New York to work for the commodity trader Marc Rich.
Glasenberg quickly climbed the ranks. Rich sent him back to South Africa to work on coal deals.
In the nineties, it emerged that Rich illegally traded with Iran – he appeared on the FBI’s Most Wanted list alongside Osama bin Laden. Rich, who also evaded tax, was later pardoned by then-president Bill Clinton.
Glasenberg went on to become CEO in 2002, and along with his colleagues bought Rich’s stake in the company. The firm has re-established as Glencore.
2. He almost competed in the 1984 Olympics
Glasenberg is a keen race-walker and wanted to take part in the 1984 Olympics under Israel’s flag. In the end, he didn’t – either due to his South African nationality, according to some reports, or because his time wasn’t good enough.
3. He’s a close associate of president Cyril Ramaphosa
Glasenberg and Ramamphosa have known each other for around 30 years. Back in 2005, Glencore chose Ramaphosa to be its black economic empowerment partner on the Shanduka Coal project.
Three years ago, Glencore was reportedly under pressure to sell the Optimum coal mine to a company associated with the Guptas. According to Bloomberg reports, Glencore is now considering buying Optimum back. Glencore also recently got approval to buy Chevron’s oil refining and fuel service stations in South Africa for $1 billion (about R14 billion).
Glasenberg expressed his support for the current SA president in February, saying that he believed that Ramaphosa would be “a very good president”.
4. Glasenberg’s dealings in Africa have raised suspicions
Glencore’s association with the controversial Israeli commodities tycoon Dan Gertler, who is involved in mining in the DRC, is currently facing scrutiny in the US. Gertler is on the US sanction list for his alleged “opaque corrupt mining and oil deals”. Glencore apparently made payments to Gertler, which are now under US investigation.
5. He paid former UK premier Tony Blair over R14 million for a couple of hours’ work
Blair and Glasenberg are friends, so when Glasenberg needed a mediator for a day when Glencore and Xstrate negotiated their merger, he paid Blair a hefty amount to oversee the process.
One final fact – like Ramaphosa, Glasenberg gets up at five in the morning, every morning.
It’s called the “5AM club”.
I prefer Club Duvet.
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