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De Beers names Equinor’s Al Cook as new CEO

Prices for small rough diamonds, the type that would end up clustered around the solitaire stone in a ring, are climbing. (Image courtesy of Anglo American | Flickr.)

De Beers, the world’s top diamond producer by value, has appointed oil and energy industry executive Al Cook as its new chief executive to replace Bruce Cleaver, who leaves the top job after six years at the helm.

England-born Cook, with 25 years in the energy industry and current vice-president of Norwegian oil major Equinor’s exploration and production business, will assume De Beers leadership early next year, the company said.

Al Cook
Al Cook. (Image courtesy of De Beers.)

Cleaver will become co-chair of De Beers Group, after steering the diamond producer through a period of considerable change in the industry.

Under his leadership, De Beers championed initiatives to remove “conflict diamonds, those mined in an area of armed conflict and traded illicitly to finance the fighting, and grew its sales agreements.

Duncan Wanblad, who in April took over from Mark Cutifani as CEO of Anglo American (LON: AAL), De Beers’ parent company, said today Cook’s broad base of skills won him the position.

Cook will be the third chief executive of De Beers since 2012, when Anglo bought the Oppenheimers’ 40% stake in the diamond company, bringing an end to 80 years of control under the South African family.

De Beers has benefitted from a steady recovery in the diamond market since early 2021. Sanctions on Alrosa (MCX: ALRS), its Russian rival, have also boosted the miner’s position as a global shortage caused by two years of covid-related shutdowns increased this year.