The coal miner-to-wheat trading giant Glencore Xstrata moved to take greater control of Lonmin yesterday, as the beleaguered platinum group continues to struggle with trade unions in South Africa.
Two Glencore Xstrata executives – Gary Nagle, the head of its alloys division, and Paul Smith, the head of strategy and communications – were appointed non-executive directors at Lonmin.
Glencore Xstrata owns nearly a quarter of Lonmin, the world’s third-biggest platinum producer, and investors have been keen to find out what chief executive Ivan Glasenberg plans to do with that stake. There has been chatter that Glasenberg would sell up, having inherited the shareholding after adding Xstrata to his Glencore empire in May in a $29bn (£19bn) deal.
Mr Glasenberg is bringing the entire Glencore Xstrata management team to London this week to meet investors, after it last month revealed a $7.7bn (£4.9bn) hit on the value of Xstrata’s assets.
Lonmin has suffered from union problems in South Africa for more than a year, with 34 people shot dead by police during a strike last summer. The group will have talks in November with negotiators from the Solidarity union, which it does not recognise.