BRUCE Cleaver has some mending to do having replaced predecessor Philippe Mellier in July 2016. During his five years at the helm of the largest rough diamond producer, Mellier - a complete outsider - did not form vital relationships with the group’s 80-odd clients. In contrast, Cleaver spent his first 100 days in office re-establishing connections he has formed since he joined De Beers in 2005. He also visited mine related stakeholders in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada in which he elaborated on why critical revenue streams from these mines to the southern African countries would fluctuate as De Beers controlled supply to a volatile market. Another critical relationship is with Anglo American, which owns 85% of De Beers and has insisted the venerable diamond company move to its London offices, abandoning its headquarters in the city’s decades-old diamond district. Anglo has identified De Beers as one of its three core divisions along with platinum and copper. Cleaver will have to manage Anglo’s expectations and diplomatically manage any changes its parent may want to impose or – for that matter - knowledge it may want to extract. Anglo boss Mark Cutifani has expressed an interest in using De Beers’ marketing successes as a template for the larger Anglo. But it is the custodial role of the global diamond market that will be Cleaver’s greatest challenge, ensuring a carefully judged flow of rough diamonds to clients and to stimulate diamond jewellery demand.
LIFE OF BRUCE
Cleaver has a background in investment banking and law, working as a commercial partner at Webber Wentzel. He has a BSc in Applied Mathematics and an LLB from the University of Cape Town and an LLM from Cambridge University. He joined De Beers in 2005 as general counsel, rising rapidly to become its commercial director in 2007, and acting joint CEO in 2010 before heading strategy, business development, corporate affairs and technology in 2011 under Mellier.
“South Africa is in a slightly difficult place right now.”
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