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Business Comment

James Ashton: Shaken and stirred, Sir John Bond is ousted after digging himself into a hole at miner

Mr Bond, we've been expecting you. The ambush that greeted Sir John Bond in a small Swiss theatre was every bit as dramatic as the assaults his namesake superspy has faced over the years.

Yet while James can feel aggrieved when the baddies obstruct his pursuit of the girl, Sir John had it all coming to him.

Sure, he was due to serve only a few months more as the chairman of Glencore Xstrata, but the manner of his early exit is an embarrassment. At 71, this could be his last top role. The leonine HSBC banker, who has also chaired Vodafone, is going out with a whimper not a roar.

He should have known better than to fight for a ludicrous retention package as part of the merger for miners who had already excavated sacks of gold for themselves. Sir John and his recently departed Xstrata deputy chairman David Rough, once a corporate governance crusader at Legal & General, are guilty of spending too long fawning over the legend of miner Mick Davis and not enough considering what was best for those that owned the company. His blurred focus helped to turn a merger into a Glencore takeover.

That suited Glencore chief Ivan Glasenberg. He has been plotting the union of the two companies for years, soon after Xstrata was hewn from Glencore's unloved coal assets. But the exit of Sir John and his fellow directors removes the fig leaf of respectability from the board.

Mr Glasenberg isn't the luckiest when it comes to chairmen. But shareholders should hope someone can be found to step up and keep the leadership of this £45 billion commodities giant in check.

If he can spare the time, laid-back Tony Hayward, who is thoroughly enjoying himself at Genel Energy away from the glare of BP, might be just the ticket.