FRENCH-BORN Mellier moves to the number two diamond producer fresh from Alstom Transport, having been president of the French engineering group since 2003.
He started his career at Ford in 1980 as a sales and planning analyst, and went on to spend 19 years there including stints in Portugal, New Zealand and Mexico.
Mellier ended his time at Ford as vice president of marketing sales & service for Europe, before joining Renault Trucks in 1999 and becoming chairman and chief executive the following year.
At Alstom, Mellier proved a vociferous defendant of the company’s interests, making a complaint to the European Commission about Eurostar’s use of Siemens Velaro trains instead of its own high-speed fleet.
Alstom failed to block the deal, but Mellier remained in the headlines when he said Western countries should counter a Chinese clampdown on outside suppliers by closing their markets to sales of Chinese trains.
De Beers’ latest hire echoes that of its 45 per cent stakeholder Anglo American, which recruited externally for the first time in 89 years when it hired Cynthia Carroll from Alcan in 2006.
Mellier will be based between De Beers’ UK and its South African offices.