Monday, December 17, 2018
Gareth Penny

Gareth Penny

Pangolin Diamonds

THERE’S a saying in Ireland: “You can take the man out of the bog, but can you take the bog out of the man?” You could apply the same philosophy to Penny when it comes to the diamond industry: “You can take the man out of De Beers, but can you take De Beers out of the man?” The answer would be a resounding no because seven years after he quit as MD of De Beers, Penny is back in the diamond business. He’s now chairman of Canadian exploration minnow Pangolin Diamonds which is looking for new diamond mines in his old stomping ground of Botswana where, of course, his former firm rules the roost. There’s a thriving junior diamond exploration sector in Botswana largely staffed by former De Beers executives. Penny probably retrenched a few of them, which could make for some interesting conversations in the bar in ‘Gabs’. Penny is not wasting time. He is leading a group of investors pitching for the BK11 mine owned by Firestone Diamonds.


He’s best known for his time at De Beers where he was MD. He took over at De Beers as the tide turned against the once monolithic group and introduced the revolutionary “supplier of choice” marketing system and followed that with the diamond giant’s first-ever management cull. After leaving De Beers in 2010 he branched out into investment and banking. Penny is non-executive chairman of Russia’s Norilsk Nickel and he joined Pangolin in August 2016.