Societies typically progress from feudalism, where a king rules through powerful barons, to centralised government. Swiss commodities group Glencore is halfway there. Peter Freyberg, newish head of the industrial division, popped up on a half-year earnings call to defend mining practices. Copper boss Telis Mistakidis retired in December. In-house oil baron Alex Beard went in June.

The old king — CEO and 9% shareholder Ivan Glasenberg — still occupies his throne. But he is becoming less reliant on the dwindling band of billionaire commodity traders he led through a 2011 initial public offering...

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