As President of Sual, the Russian aluminium group, he has been reportedly preparing for a merger with Rusal, Russia's largest aluminium producer. In his personal style, he is said to combine a fierce toughness with charm and an impressive ability to network. He is also regarded as a great deal maker.
His reputation had taken a knock, though, in recent years after he left his job as chairman of Vedanta, the Indian metals group, after just one year in the post to work for Sual, where he was richly rewarded with a $50m pay packet. He was criticised by investors for selling half of his Vedanta shares shortly after it had listed at a time when the stock was performing badly.
However, it is said he is motivated by a challenge and the need to be seen to be successful, and not by money. Growing up in South Africa where he trained as a physicist, Gilbertson was recruited by the mining group JCI, where he worked for 18 years. In the merger of BHP and Billiton, Gilbertson laid down the path for the modern, diversified mining industry, which is better able to weather cyclical downturns.
Source: A miner of many resources
FT, Weekend 2-3 September 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza