Glencore Names Female Director to Lose All-Male Board Tag

Patrice Merrin
Patrice Merrin, 65, is a former of chief operating officer at nickel and energy producer Sherritt International Corp. and chief executive officer of Luscar Ltd., the largest thermal coal producer in Canada. Source: RLMFinsbury

Glencore Plc ended its status as the only FTSE-100 company without a woman on its board by appointing Canadian mining executive Patrice Merrin an independent non-executive director with immediate effect.

Merrin, 65, is a former of chief operating officer at nickel and energy producer Sherritt International Corp. and chief executive officer of Luscar Ltd., the largest thermal coal producer in Canada, Glencore said in a statement today. She’s a non-executive director of New York-listed Stillwater Mining Co., the world’s largest platinum and palladium producer outside of South Africa and Russia.

Glencore, run by billionaire CEO Ivan Glasenberg, has been under pressure from activists groups and politicians including U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable to appoint a female director for more than a year. Glencore Chairman and former BP Plc CEO Tony Hayward said in May the company would make the appointment by the end of the year, describing it as an “important priority” for the miner and commodity trader.

“Ivan wants someone that isn’t seen as just tokenism,” Paul Gait, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London, said today. “His objective, as I understood it has always been, was that if they are going to appoint someone they want someone with experience who is actually going to contribute to the debate. Just looking at the CV it appears to be one that will tick the boxes.”

Hayward Opposition

Glencore’s became the only all-male board of any FTSE-100 company after fellow mine operator Antofagasta Plc hired Vivianne Blanlot in March. The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, an association of 60 public sector funds with assets of 120 billion pounds ($204 billion), in May advised members to oppose Hayward’s re-election because of lack of progress in appointing a female board representative.

Merrin’s got “decent mining and energy credentials and is another tick in corporate governance boxes that Glencore is so often found wanting,” said Ben Davis, an analyst at Liberum Capital Ltd. It “doesn’t necessarily open Glencore up immediately to a larger investor base, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Merrin, a former director of the Alberta Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation, was a member of the Canadian Advisory Panel on Sustainable Energy Science and Technology, and served on Canada’s Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

While the U.K. says it wants more women directors, a government-commissioned study led by former Standard Chartered Plc Chairman Mervyn Davies recommended a 25 percent goal by 2015 rather than quotas.

Glencore rose 0.4 percent to 325.45 pence at 9:57 a.m. London time.

Peter Grauer, the chairman of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is a non-executive director of Glencore and chairman of the company’s nomination committee.

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