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June 2005

Gareth Penny Is New De Beers Director; Gary Ralfe to Retire Jun.2005

Gareth Penny, age 42, has been named the new managing director of De Beers. He succeeds current managing director Gary Ralfe, who has announced his intention to retire in February 2006.

Penny joined Anglo American Corporation in 1988, and served as Personal Assistant to Julian Ogilvie Thompson, then Chairman of both Anglo American and of De Beers. He went on to set up, on behalf of Debswana Diamond Company, the Teemane diamond cutting factory in Serowe, Botswana. He was then appointed the Manager of De Beers’ Strategic Review. In July last year he succeeded Gary Ralfe as Managing Director of Diamond Trading Company and has played the leading role in the successful implementation of Supplier of Choice, De Beers’ new sales and marketing strategy.

Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer stated that “I am confident, along with the other shareholders of De Beers, that under Gareth’s leadership De Beers will continue the record of performance of the past few years. I am delighted that Gary Ralfe will continue to serve as a non-executive Director of De Beers SA after his retirement next year.”

South African Minister Slams Penny as “Another White Manager”

Penny’s appointment was just hours old when already there was a controversy.

South Africa’s deputy minister of minerals Lulu Xingwana said she was disappointed with the choice.

Xingwana told Parliament that the government wanted to “again express our exasperation and disappointment by De Beers’ announcement that it will replace one white managing director with another white managing director,” the BBC reports.

“This is the same company whose board of directors is lily-white and male dominated. No single black South African is in the board. We want to ask De Beers: Is this how you show commitment to transformation?”
Approached for comment on the deputy minister’s remarks, Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “The deputy minister doesn’t lie.”

Opposition leaders criticized the remarks. Tony Leon, head of the white-led Democratic Alliance, said that her statements were a “racist tantrum” and “actually hurt black South Africans as much as white South Africans, by discouraging investor confidence in our country.”

“The deputy minister has never worked in the minerals and energy sector, never held a government post dealing with minerals and energy prior to being appointed … and has never completed an academic degree beyond the level of postgraduate diploma,” he wrote. “Despite her own obvious lack of qualifications, Deputy Minister Xingwana imagines that she can tell global companies whom to hire and fire.”

De Beers has been under fire lately for not giving enough jobs and local benefit to South Africa, where it is headquartered.  v



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