Lai See

At least Peace still chairs other FTSE 100 firms …

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 5:24am

The chairman of Standard Chartered, Sir John Peace, is in very hot water, as we noted yesterday over remarks he made earlier this month in which he said the bank did not wilfully try to avoid US sanctions with Iran.

He made a humiliating retraction on Thursday in which he said he was wrong and that the bank had indeed engaged in criminal conduct in violating US economic sanction laws.

It would not be surprising if Peace resigns as chairman of the bank. He is also chairman of Burberry and Experian, both of which are FTSE 100 companies.

This goes against the advice of Britain's code on corporate governance which recommends that "boards should not agree to a full-time executive taking on more than one FTSE 100 company non-executive directorship or the chairmanship of such a company". So perhaps it is not surprising that Peace should fall asleep at the wheel every now and again.


Board games

IRC chairman Jay Hambro was hugely amused at Thursday night's Mines and Money dinner after General Nice Resources and Minmetals won the deal of the year award for their US$240 million investment in IRC.

Being part of the winning deal was gratifying, but Hambro seemed to derive additional satisfaction in coming out ahead of one of the other contender for this award, Glencore, which was nominated for its takeover of Xstrata.

Glencore, the giant commodities trader, is chaired by Simon Murray who also sits on the IRC board.

The personality of the year award went to G-Resources executive vice-chairman Owen Hegarty. He shows up at practically every mining conference and dinner, so it was ironic he was unable to collect his award in person.

Discovery of the year was won by Sirius Resources for the Nova nickel copper discovery in Western Australia. Sirius was trading at 5.7 Australian cents before the discovery but is now at A$4.05. PanAust won the project development of the year award for the on-schedule commissioning of the Ban Houayxai gold and silver project in Laos.

Kyrgyzstan was mining country of the year for the new mining laws it passed last year, which encouraged foreign investment as a result of increased transparency and the easing of the acquisition of and maintenance of exploration licences by both locals and foreigners. There was a special Mines and Money jury prize awarded to Robert Friedland, chairman of Ivanplats for, one suspects, being Robert Friedland.


Friedland turns up the heat

We can't resist one more tale from the Mines and Money conference. This comes from Robert Friedland, while discussing his various projects at the conference. One is the Platreef project, which will eventually involve building a mine to extract palladium, platinum, rhodium, nickel and copper.

His slide of a traditional platinum mine in South Africa showed miners in very low tunnels having to crawl on their knees over a rocky floor while using pneumatic drills. They spend many hours a day some 2.5 kilometres deep. The temperature of the tunnel walls is about 50 degrees Celsius while the humidity is 100 per cent. They endure all this for US$12 an hour.

Unsurprisingly, he says, they are not prepared to do it any more. To get a sense of the conditions, Friedland did the next best thing to going down the mine and went to his local steam room, in the Singapore Four Seasons Hotel, and turned the thermostat to 50 degrees. He said even lying there on his towel doing no work he could only stand it for 20 minutes before having to leave. He is planning to do platinum mining differently.


Picking winners

There must have been mixed feelings in the Macquarie box at the Hong Kong Sevens yesterday evening when the Canadians thrashed the Australians 29-0 in the women's final.

Macquarie, the last time we looked, is an Australian investment bank. However, on this occasion the bank was well hedged in that it was sponsoring the Canadian women's team. Just like the finance business: put your money on winners, regardless of sentiment.