Glencore tries to tame its new outspoken chair

COMMODITIES trader Glencore knew it would be entering an unpredictable

world when it appointed 71-year-old former French legionnaire and mountain climber Simon Murray to be its chairman earlier this month ahead of its multi-billion pound flotation.

Even so, Murray’s comments over the past few days have raised more hackles than the most sceptical City adviser could have dreamed of. He described England as “economically, absolutely shambolic” in an interview and then described women as “not so ambitious in business as men”. “They have better things to do... pregnant ladies have nine months off.”

Yesterday, as a host of City grandees took aim at the new chairman’s indiscretions, Murray was being taken through his steps by financial public relations advisers to the float.

“I wouldn’t say we’re trying to rein him in exactly,” said one adviser, “but sometimes Simon can say things the second he thinks of them.”

Some working on the float were suggesting Murray’s quotes be checked by advisers before being given to reporters. Others advised he takes some time off from interviews to let the City focus on Glencore, not its chair, again. Those working on the deal took a largely sanguine approach.

“Glencore is so up there in all sorts of ways that in the long run these comments will have little impact.”