BUSINESS

The third Greek on Forbes list

By Vangelis Mandravelis

Up until this year, the Forbes list of the world?s wealthiest people included two men of Greek descent: Yiannis Latsis at number 219, with a fortune of $4.5 billion, and Filippos Niarchos at number 459, with $2.5 billion. Next year?s list, however, will include another Greek magnate, Telis Mistakidis, who owns 6 percent of Glencore, the multinational mining and commodities trading company headquartered in Baar, Switzerland, which was recently listed on the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges with a capitalization of $59 billion.

Glencore, moreover, is the first company in 25 years to vie for a spot in the FTSE 100 directly after being listed, according to the London Stock Exchange. The result of this dynamic opening was that certain Glencore executives saw themselves become billionaires almost overnight.

The 49-year-old Mistakidis, co-director of Glencore?s zinc, copper and lead unit, was among them.

Born in Italy, educated in the United Kingdom and now a resident of Switzerland, the globetrotting Mistakidis seems uncomfortable with the billionaire label. Plus, he told Kathimerini in a recent e-mailed interview, ?the senior people at Glencore are locked in for a number of years as part of the IPO. Even if we wanted to, we cannot sell any of our shares at present. What we have is wealth on paper only.?

Nevertheless, it seems that Mistakidis will be ranked on the Forbes list for 2012 at number 317, with a fortune of $3.6 billion, while it is also estimated that he will be making an additional $60 million from this year?s dividends alone.

What does Glencore mean to you?

Glencore initially started as a pure trading company. We have evolved into a significant producer of commodities ourselves and production now accounts for about half our profits.

This business model is unique to Glencore and it works well. It gives us security of supply and enables us to see and react to day-to-day developments in the commodities markets.

We now have world-class mining and farming assets across the commodities we handle. For example, Glencore owns the largest and highest-grade copper deposit in the world. So we are really excited about the prospects going forward, especially at a time when demand is growing and supply is struggling to keep up.

This scarcity is a result of massive global underinvestment in mines over the last 20 years -- there was not too much demand for commodities as the industrialized economies of the USA, Western Europe and Japan had finished been built. Commodity prices were flat or falling for many years, producers were losing money or barely staying solvent.

Now, over the last few years, we have been seeing the emergence of the economies of countries like China and India, where populations are not in the hundreds of millions but in the billions. These countries are now being built as huge populations want to move to the cities and enjoy lives like we have in the developed countries. As well as housing they need infrastructure: power plants, power lines, roads, railways and airports. As a result, the requirements for resources are and will be that much bigger and of such a large scale that production is now caught short and will struggle to catch up.

Has Glencore ever invested in Greece?

Glencore does business in Greece supplying commodities and we are happy with all our counterparts in that. Some years ago we looked at investing in what was then Cassandra Mines in Halkidiki and we have been looking at Larco Nickel. We would of course look to invest if the right opportunity arose.

Would you personally invest a part of your fortune in Greece? If so, in which sectors?

My focus is Glencore right now and that represents the best investment for me. Of course one day I could consider this; however, it would have to be something simple and something that I understood well.

The journey to the top

Telis Mistakidis was born in Rome, where his father, a marine biologist, worked for the United Nations.

His first position was in the nonferrous metals sector at Cargill. He joined Glencore in 1993, making his way to the top through a variety of positions.

In his current position as co-director of Glencore?s zinc, copper and lead unit, he is in charge of the strategy, marketing and management of the department?s industrial units.

Meanwhile, he also holds key positions in Glencore?s subsidiaries Katanga Mining Limited, Recylex SA and Mopani Copper Mines Plc.

He speaks Greek fluently and spends most of his vacation time here, though the possibility of moving to Greece permanently is not something he is ready to discuss at this point.

?I do of course consider myself Greek. As a child we spoke Greek at home and even though we have been away from Greece for a long time I still speak Greek at home with my family,? he told Kathimerini.

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