Anglo Appoints Cleaver as De Beers CEO as Mellier Steps Down

  • Diamond producer resumes tradition of promoting from within
  • Bruce Cleaver has held strategy roles at Anglo, De Beers

Anglo American Plc appointed Strategy Director Bruce Cleaver as chief executive officer of De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer, replacing Philippe Mellier, who was in the role for five years.

Cleaver, 51, will take over the position on July 1, London-based Anglo said in a statement Friday. Having joined on De Beers’ board in 2008, Cleaver’s appointment resumes the company’s tradition of promoting from within.

Philippe Mellier and Bruce Cleaver

Photographer: Xaume Olleros/AFP/Getty Images

“This is going back to the older model,” said Alon Olsha, a London-based analyst at Macquarie Bank Ltd. “It speaks well for the culture that they can nurture people from within to take those senior roles.”

A former lawyer with an applied mathematics degree from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Cleaver takes over the gem producer at a time when diamond prices are beginning to rebound after slowing Chinese demand and an industry credit crunch forced the company to lower prices by about 15 percent in 2015. De Beers and rival Alrosa PJSC responded by cutting off supply to try to support the market.

Uncertain Times

“These are still relatively uncertain times for the industry,” said Olsha, who has an underperform rating on Anglo American. “It’s been a very strong start to the year for De Beers but the company has been quite clear that we’re heading into a seasonally softer part of the year. That will be one of the key challenges” for the new CEO, he said.

After joining De Beers’ board, Cleaver became executive head for strategy and corporate affairs and was later chief commercial officer. He served as joint acting CEO for a year before Mellier, 60, was appointed in May 2011.

France-born Mellier had no previous senior experience in the diamond industry, having joined from rail-equipment maker Alstom SA and spent the bulk of his career in the auto industry at Ford Motor Co., Renault SA and Volvo AB.

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