Nagle is currently global head of Glencore’s coal industrial business based out of Sydney Australia, and will return to Switzerland to begin a transition to the new role.

After 18 years as Glencore CEO, Glasenberg will step down from the role and retire from the Glencore board of directors, with Nagle ascending.

With a reputation as a swashbuckling dealmaker, Glasenberg had long forecast that he would retire from the helm of what is the world's largest commodities trading company, notifying investors in December 2018 that he would be looking for someone who "looks like me" as a replacement.

Since then Nagle, a fellow South African with an accountancy background, had been tipped as a front runner for the role, while the move to appoint an executive with a background in assets is said by followers of the company to be a sign of its future direction as a miner-trader.

"Gary will print his own mark eventually but there is a sense of continuity here, a relay baton pass to somebody who has been very close to Ivan for many years," Jean-François Lambert, founding partner of the consultancy Lambert Commodities, told Fastmarkets.

"If you look at the bottom line, the asset business at Glencore creates a significant contribution to the Ebitda, so I think having someone who can deal and manage assets is the right thing to do," Lucio Genovese, a former senior trader and Moscow office manager at Glencore, said by phone.

Nagle joined Glencore in 2000 in Switzerland as part of the coal business development team and then worked for five years in Colombia as CEO of Prodeco, Glencore’s Colombian coal operation.

He then moved to South Africa to take on the role of head of Glencore’s alloys assets between 2013 and 2018.

Glencore has said Nagle intends to relocate from Australia to Switzerland early next year and will work with Glasenberg during a transition period.

“I have worked with Gary since he joined the company 20 years ago. I have always regarded it as a critical part of my job to develop the next generation of leadership at Glencore and I am proud of the strong leadership team that we developed from which we were able to select Gary,” Glasenberg said.