By Barbara Lewis and Eric Onstad
LONDON (Reuters) - Glencore <GLEN.L> could announce a new chief executive next year once a new management team is in place, its current boss told an investor meeting on Tuesday as the commodities giant laid out its priorities for 2020.
The mining and trading company faces a challenging year as it contends with problems on multiple fronts, from a series of mine fatalities and climate politics to a continuing U.S. Department of Justice investigation and difficulties in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Speculation about Ivan Glasenberg's departure has intensified after he said last year that he expected to retire in between three and five years.
Asked for detail on a planned management transition, Glasenberg said there was "a good crop of people" but did not offer names.
"The old guys will be leaving. How soon? We're reviewing it right now. I would imagine it would occur next year," said 62-year-old Glasenberg, who has been chief executive since 2002.
"I've always said I don't want to be an old guy running this company. As soon as those guys are ready to take over, I'll be ready to step aside."
While the U.S. investigation https://www.reuters.com/article/us-glencore-subpoena/u-s-slaps-glencore-with-subpoena-as-part-of-money-laundering-probe-idUSKBN1JT0PA into corruption in Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela and Nigeria looms in the background, Glasenberg and the company have come under scrutiny after fatalities at its sites.
"This is something that has shocked the business to the core. We know that this is something we have to deal with," said Head of Industrial Mining Peter Freyberg.
Glencore's shares have underperformed peers this year, falling nearly 20%.
Glasenberg said the company's 150 assets mean it is well positioned for an expected rise in demand for commodities such as copper, nickel, cobalt and zinc from electric vehicles and other green technologies.
But he also predicted that coal would continue to drive profits despite mounting concerns from investors and the wider public about its impact on global warming.
Glencore has capped its own production in response to demands from investors but forecasts good margins for its high-quality coal and said that renewables alone would not be enough to meet energy demand.
Glasenberg predicted that thermal coal's share of the global energy market would fall to 23% by 2030, from 26% now, while the share of renewables would rise to 18% from about 7%.
"You've got to remember, renewables cannot fill this gap," he said.
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis and Eric Onstad; Editing by David Goodman)