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Browne not going to Glencore

Robert Peston | 15:01 UK time, Thursday, 14 April 2011

Yes you read the headline correctly.

Lord Browne

It turns out that Lord Browne isn't going to be chairman of Glencore after all

And, of course, if you think I look like a plonker, that's fair enough.

Here is what happened.

Glencore's announcement that it plans to list on the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges said this:

"Glencore has made its decision regarding the new chairman and is in the final stages of making the appointment, which will be communicated shortly".

I was told by impeccable sources that the chosen candidate was Lord Browne. And that is definitely the case.

However those "final stages of making the appointment" were not the formality that I and my sources believed.

When it came to the final talks between Lord Browne and Glencore, there was a disagreement about governance issues.

Anyway, Glencore came to the view that Browne wasn't quite right for it. My sense is that Lord Browne was more of a stickler for detail than this entrepreneurial company felt comfortable with.

So what on earth happens now?

Well Glencore can't float without a chairman.

Before Lord Browne became the preferred candidate, Simon Murray - the Hong Kong business leader - was the favourite to take the job.

Does he still want the job? Does Glencore want him?

I don't know, but I will endeavour to find out.

It's all a cracking corporate soap opera. But probably not the ideal curtain-raiser for the biggest flotation the London market has ever seen.

Update 15:15: Glencore has now appointed Simon Murray, former managing director of the Asian giant Hutchison Whampoa, as its chairman.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    If a well known public figure who is unlikely to ask awkward questions about how the company does business is required, may I suggest Archie Andrews.

  • Comment number 2.

    If Lord Browne was more of a stickler for detail then Simon Murray must be less of a stickler for detail?

  • Comment number 3.

    Don't feel too bad Peston.

    Sky news sources tweeted the same story 3 minutes after you did. Unless you are the sky sources!

  • Comment number 4.

    Robert: From this article: "My sense is that Lord Browne was more of a stickler for detail than this entrepreneurial company felt comfortable with."

    From your previous article today: "In May 2007, he resigned as chief executive of BP, ending a 41 year career at the company (much of it glittering), after it emerged that he had lied to the courts about the circumstances of how he met his former lover, Jeff Chevalier."

    That's some stickler for detail!

  • Comment number 5.

    No problem, we all make mistakes Robert. Thats means you have something in common with the Banking Commission then.

  • Comment number 6.

    Never mind I enjoyed reading and making the comments which demonstrate the near universal contempt many have for the way of the corporate world.

  • Comment number 7.

    May I suggest that you go back to basics and instead of creating the news you revert to breaking official approved and un-embargoed news. Become a stickler for detail Mr Peston

  • Comment number 8.

    An unpleasant case of premature publication...

    Story, what story?

  • Comment number 9.

    How embarrassing Robert.

    Perhaps you should stick to reporting the news and try not to make it.

    Egg. On. Face.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh Robert, you know that all 'impeccable' stories have to be checked with a voicemail hack: Fleetstreet 101 old boy!

  • Comment number 11.

    6. At 15:59pm 14th Apr 2011, watriler wrote:
    Never mind I enjoyed reading and making the comments which demonstrate the near universal contempt many have for the way of the corporate world.

    - If by near universal you mean tiny minority.
    Bobby P you have egg on your face don't make it worse by trying to guess why Lord Browne wasn't offered the job. Maybe your father can ask him the next time there in the Lords together?

  • Comment number 12.

    "And, for the avoidance of doubt, Lord Browne is taking on a proper job." (LB Moves to Glencore)
    So no more statements that you can help us avoid doubt in the future Robert!
    but then
    I was told by impeccable sources that the chosen candidate was Lord Browne.
    Has this source remained impeccable?

  • Comment number 13.

    Well, it made me smile-that headline.

    Hot off the press. Respected BBC journalist left browned off after a temporary loss of power at Glencore - yes, it was a brownout. No brownie points gained there, then. Whatever, something to reflect on while dipping brownbread soldiers into one's hardboiled brown egg of a morning and, as your eyes wander over the cereal box, ponder the possibility of where Lord Brown's experience and talents as a stickler for details could emerge next...No, it couldn't be, could it? KBR? -formerly known as Kellogg BROWN and Root.

  • Comment number 14.

    Has Our Bob been stitched up? Has someone peston pesty Peston? To arms comrades, to arms!

  • Comment number 15.

    Oops!

    Never mind, Robert, anyone who is first with the news is going to get it wrong sometimes (especially when it's actually changes while you're talking about it).

    But our sympathy must surely go to poor unfortunate Lord Browne, unfairly cheated out of his new job and currently unemployed. Or not. And at his age he's bound to have lots of difficulty getting another one, isn't he?

    Oh, that's right, nearly forgot the old-boy network. Doubtless another prime directorship will come along shortly, and perhaps a Royal commision or two to keep him occupied when he can't be bothered to turn up for debates in the house of Lords?

    So, anyone care to try a sweepstake on the number of months before he lands a new directorship?

  • Comment number 16.

    Jacques Cartier said:

    'Robert's post on the Rosneft deal has attracted 18 responses so far. His latest post about greedy bankers has attracted 206.

    Can we assume that banks are about 12 times as despised as oil companies?'

    There have also been 7 posts about albatrosses. I'm not sure what statistical conclusion you reach from this about their relative popularity but please don't start another of your persecutory rants against sea birds.

  • Comment number 17.

    "governance issues" -- potential shareholders might want to know more about this (unsourced) reference?

  • Comment number 18.

    Why not stick to reporting the news, and then you won't be caught out.

  • Comment number 19.

    "And, of course, if you think I look like a plonker, that's fair enough."

    If, Richard, if?

  • Comment number 20.

    "And, of course, if you think I look like a plonker, that's fair enough."

    At least Sky's Mark Kleinman had the common sense to hedge his bets a bit!

    Does the BBC's ethics manual allow you to chin your source Robert?



  • Comment number 21.

    The question everybody should be asking is why has Glencore decided to list.
    Is the reason to list decided by those who stand to make millions?
    What of the rest of us with implicit holdings via pension funds?
    Are the few about to crystallize their gains from the rest of us?
    Questions questions. And so it goes on and on.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm prepared to do it if they'll sponsor all my son's motor racing so I can start saving for my pension!

  • Comment number 23.

    It's not like the exclusive line to No10 that you used to have to peddle the last misgovernment's line, is it Robert?
    You are indeed a plonker, your own term, and now an exposed plonker!
    Not a pretty sight!

  • Comment number 24.

    You used the word plonker. I use the word hubris. Take the lesson and learn.

  • Comment number 25.

    So much bitterness towards Robert -- I wonder how many of the critics are journalists jealous of his sources, or brokers and PRs who want to big up the IPO?
    The real story here is not Robert's error (it happens to everyone sometimes) but why Glencore could not secure the more credible candidate (Browne) and had to settle for the other one, and why was all this left to the last minute and then rushed out on the day the ITF was published?

  • Comment number 26.

    Should have stuck to Bankers.

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree with other comments please Robert report the news and maybe give us your opinion on it don't try to pre empt it

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm sure Robert (or Richard as oldrightie at post 19 calls him) is a decent journalist trying , as most people do, to do his job to the best of his ability. And I take no pleasure in seeing him come unstuck on this occasion.

    But it does highlight the tendency for journalists to be more attracted to the sensational story than to the true or important one. And this puts into better context Robert's tendency to continue to dig furiously for an angle on the financial services sector that furthers his career, supports his own political views, and keeps his followers entertained. But then we all do that to an extent in our own less public way.

  • Comment number 29.

    Should have gone to Specsavers

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    Robert,

    Never mind the ethics of 'chinning' your sources. What about the BBC journalistic standards? Like reporting the facts and not rumour. If you start reporting rumour you might accidentally be changing the actual plans that were going to be released. Come on Robert. Enough is enough.

  • Comment number 32.

    Robert - honest question here...

    Have you ever worried that you might have made a few enemies in the business world over the last few years, who might take pleasure in arranging for you to be fed some false story, intending you to end up with egg on your face?

    Could imagine it would be a bit of a risk?

  • Comment number 33.

    Oh Dear, time to remove foot from mouth
    Now repeat after me, next time await confirmation

  • Comment number 34.

    Robert , ignore the dummies above , sometimes appointments change at the list minute , the business world is a fickle place ...

  • Comment number 35.

    Spin? From a source? Misinformation from a company about to....

    And to the man who brought down the world economy?

    It is as if someone is getting back at you. Bless. If only there was a good news story to be had around.... or a bad news story to be buried.
    I must change my tag to Mr Cynical, note to self.

  • Comment number 36.

    MMMM! I respect JB. He is not just an oilman he is a business man (and how BP needs one of those now!). I would have chucked in some cash to the IPO (if invited), but if JB says no.... I wonder!!

    BP pensioner

  • Comment number 37.

    RP you are not the news. You say this blog is your take on the news that matters. For instance you could choose from: Goldman Sachs executives accused of misleading Congress and Greece worsening debt crisis. However all of us make mistakes so Keep Calm and Carry On.


  • Comment number 38.

    My only concern, and this must be the fear of every journalist, is that Robert was fed the story as a bit of misinformation by Glencore. The possible evidence against this is that surely Browne would have issued a denial if he knew he was out of the running. It could have come from a Browne faction within Glencore wanting to create a momentum in his favour. The problem for a correspondent is that they don't just report events, but try to predict using supporting evidence which may not always be reliable however much checking is done.

    The point about the blog was not Robert's error, but to point out the possible nature of Glencore. It may still be a good setup, but possibly a little more risk taking than if Browne had been involved. Higher risks can lead to higher rewards or higher losses. It is about keeping people informed.

    Just had a thought. Would all those who gleefully have had a go at Robert please provide examples of where they have got something wrong. If you cannot provide any examples, you must be multi-millionaires or not willing to put your money where your mouth is which is hardly a demonstration of self confidence.

  • Comment number 39.

    If you rely on your sources and not on fact you may as well join the folk at "The News of the World"? Is this not speculative journalism a process many of the daily tabloids employ to sell the rumour and not the fact! A very dark day for the BBC, I want my license money back as it's cheaper to pay 20p for "The Sun"!

  • Comment number 40.

    Fortunately this time people didn't start queuing outside banks and causing a run on the financial system due to your reporting. Let's hope the sources you were using then were more impeccable than the Glencore one.

    Posting a blog offering excuses to people who might think you're a plonker, doesn't mean you aren't one.

  • Comment number 41.

    re #2
    Wonder if the stickling for detail was over remuneration ... and ... level of ... BONUS?

  • Comment number 42.

    > My sense is that Lord Browne was more of a stickler for detail
    > than this entrepreneurial company felt comfortable with.... Glencore
    > has now appointed Simon Murray ... as its chairman.

    Do we conclude that Simon Murray is less of a stickler for detail than Lord Browne, and should we therefore keep a closer eye on this outfit?

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Secretive Swiss Company.
    Commodity traders - known to be a tad volatile (to say the least)

    I should think anyone but a very experienced investor would give this a very wide berth.
    I also hope that the UK regulators will keep both eyes open

  • Comment number 45.

    Browne not going to Glencore?
    Who cares? ... Bunch of global, exploitatative, SOFOMT pumped spivs ... What are their ethical and environmental policies (if they have any?)

  • Comment number 46.

    'I was told by impeccable sources'

    That could be the inscription on the headstone of current 'reporting' these days.

    Hope this thread last a few more than the last.

  • Comment number 47.

    This mistake is a reflection of the times we live in - 24 hour news, little attention paid to corroborating stories with independent and several sources, the imperative to publish on a blog, self-aggrandisement, the desperate need to break a story, to scoop another, to hack into voicemail looking for mealymouthed gossip. Peston isn't the first to fall foul of these sins of our times, he won't be the last - but reflect on what I've said and tell me honestly; is this how you want the Public Service Broadcaster - BBC - to behave?

  • Comment number 48.

    The story is apparently that Glencore current owners and JB where not able to reach mutual agreement on governance issues for the new board. This is interesting and if true - a material consideration for potential investors in the float. So would be interested to hear more on this back story.

    #36 speculation as to whether the sticking point was JB's personal investment could be a governance issue - but there could be many others - knowing exactly what it was would be interesting so thats a challenge for you robert.

    However the blog inevitabiliy has drawn out all the conspiracy theorists, mudslingers and their fellow travellers - many of whom wouldn't know what a governance issue was if it bit them - yawn.

    Press on robert interested to hear the next installment.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    One has always felt that the most impeccable source is surely the horse's mouth, especially when it concerns them, their actions or words.

    Odd how little the option of asking first seems to be top of mind.

  • Comment number 51.

    At 16:23pm 14th Apr 2011, Lindsay_from_Hendon wrote:
    6. At 15:59pm 14th Apr 2011, watriler wrote:
    Never mind I enjoyed reading and making the comments which demonstrate the near universal contempt many have for the way of the corporate world.

    - If by near universal you mean tiny minority.

    - No he means universal, a majority, lots, most of the population but to be fair he probably doesnt mean universal within the square mile...

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    It just goes to show that you are mainly interested in making headlines not reporting the news. Some of us have very little time to catch up with what is really happening in this fast moving world don't waste our time with your own agenda.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    Glencore - Less of a stickler for corporate governance? This means the new Chairman will not ask awkward questions that they should.

    Makes Glencore a "toxic" stock in my view if not now then for sometime in the future - avoid.

  • Comment number 57.

    Simon Murray is a heavyweight, but perhaps better known in Hong Kong than in London. His background makes him a better candidate for Glencore than Browne, who is a career big oil man.

    Are the BBC perhaps scrabbling round to find a picture, since we have a photo of Browne but not one of Murray?

    Incidentally, if we are into starting chairmanship rumours, when is John Parker going to take over at BP?

  • Comment number 58.

    Hold the front page - journalist in getting it wrong scandal!!

    Well whaddyaknow.

    Next you'll be telling us its an isolated incident (bit like the NoTW).

  • Comment number 59.

    48. At 11:17am 15th Apr 2011, feedbackloop wrote:
    However the blog inevitabiliy has drawn out all the conspiracy theorists, mudslingers and their fellow travellers - many of whom wouldn't know what a governance issue was if it bit them - yawn.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Welcome to the madhouse.

    The trouble with forums and posting on Blogs is that you never know who you are posting to. Could be CEOs, Directors, Compnay Secretaries .............

    Beware! Or is it be aware, feedbackloop?

  • Comment number 60.

    Er, not sure if this is the best place to mention it, but you've posted a new story on business about the FSA removing companies' credit licences (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13093447 ) - but it wasn't the FSA, it was the OFT. The FSA doesn't regulate consumer credit licences, the OFT does. The OFT's website confirms this.

  • Comment number 61.

    Maybe circumstances altered Robert because you took sooooo loooong to tell the story. Sharpen up old mate and speed up too

  • Comment number 62.

    #59 - Up2snuff

    'The trouble with forums and posting on Blogs is that you never know who you are posting to. Could be CEOs, Directors, Compnay Secretaries .............'

    quite so - but I suspect that there are one or two from that select group who struggled with the concept of corporate governance as well......especially the compliance part.

    oops just joined the mudslingers.....must be habit forming


  • Comment number 63.

    59. At 12:55pm 15th Apr 2011, Up2snuff wrote:

    The trouble with forums and posting on Blogs is that you never know who you are posting to. Could be CEOs, Directors, Compnay Secretaries .............

    I thought that was the beauty of forums...an open dialogue between people from all walks of life and a broad breadth of experience.

    I am puzzled. Are you simply here to preach to the converted? I post to test my beliefs because if they can stand criticism they have a chance in reality.

  • Comment number 64.

    re #63
    Me? No.

    It was feedbackloop who doesn't like the mix.

    I value the input from all the posters.

    Well, nearly all ... ;-)

  • Comment number 65.

    Below each of our published comments is a little teaser reminding us that we can "complain about this comment". The majority of the commentators (and yes I've read them all now) have decried Peston for his considerable lack of judgement today - which he himself acknowledges. With this reminder in mind, I, for one, am going to raise a formal complaint to his blog comment.

  • Comment number 66.

    Anyone noticed how Lord Browne is a dead ringer for Ian McKellen?
    :-)

  • Comment number 67.

    What ARE you suggesting Deiziet7?

    The only impeccable sources I know are people who speak for themselves when others are there.

 

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