SIR John Bond, one-time chairman of HSBC and outgoing chairman of Vodafone, hopes to extend his stay in the FTSE 100 after agreeing to chair mining group Xstrata.
Sir John will join Xstrata’s board as a consultant with immediate effect, ahead of his departure from Vodafone in July.
Sir John will eventually replace Willy Strothotte, the Glencore chairman who retires from the Xstrata chair at its AGM on 4 May.
The move is something of a surprise for many Xstrata investors, who had assumed that Strothotte would stay on until Glencore, which owns 34 per cent of Xstrata, officially launches its much talked about IPO.
But Bond has plenty of ties to China, one of Xstrata’s fastest-growing customers, thanks to some 40 years at HSBC and involvement with the China Development Forum and the Tsinghua School of Economics and Management.
He began his career in a Hong Kong branch of HSBC at 21, becoming chief executive in 1993 and chairman in 1998.
Some expect Sir John’s tenure at Xstrata to be short. Whether or not Glencore decides to IPO (the firm has never publicly confirmed that a float is imminent), its next move could be a merger with Xstrata to help strengthen its exposure to commodity exploration.
There has been speculation that a combined group would ultimately be chaired by Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis, leaving Strothotte outside the top flight and giving Sir John, aged 70, another chance to retire from the boardroom.