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JOHANNESBURG - Gemfields board chairperson Brian Gilbertson is to step down as director and chairperson next Monday as the JSE listed company prepares to obtain a dual listing on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market.

The group said yesterday that the process of obtaining the listing highlighted the father-and-son relationship with his son Sean, Gemsfield chief executive was a potential impediment to robust corporate governance.

“By stepping down from the board, the issue is obviated,” the global coloured gemstone producer said.

Gilbertson, a former BHP Billiton chief executive, said he had served on the board for more than 12 years and the company had grown into the world’s leading supplier of coloured gemstones.

“Gemfields today is in a sound financial position with a clear strategy to unlock value for share- holders as a ‘pure-play’ African coloured gemstone producer,” said Gilbertson.

Gemfields announced that Martin Tolcher would take over as company chairperson.

Tolcher, who was appointed as a director in 2008, and serves as the chairperson of the audit committee, is a member of the remuneration and nomination committee.

The company said that the board had reviewed Tolcher’s independence and was satisfied that his classification as an independent director was valid.

The company said that Gilbert- son would resign from all other Gemfields subsidiary directorships, but would retain non-executive directorships of Fabergé, which creates jewellery, and Nairoto Resources, which houses Gemfields’ recently announced gold exploration project in Mozambique.

An analyst, who spoke on con- dition of anonymity, said yesterday that Gilbertson’s decision to step down was in line with regulatory requirements.

“Regulatory issues have come into play, and the company has had to comply,” he said.

Gemfields owns 75percent of both the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia and the Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM) in Mozambique.

It also holds a controlling interest in various other gemstone mining and prospecting licences in Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Madagascar.

In May Gemfields said that it was feeling the pinch of the 15percent duty hike on Zambian emerald exports.

Managing director of product and sales, Adrian Banks, said that the biggest issue was that the duty had hit its Kagem operations since January.

In January Gemfields agreed to pay £5.8million (R110m) to settle claims of human rights violations to the MRM in northern Mozambique.

The agreement was on a no-admission-of-liability basis and would be paid to English human rights law firm Leigh Day.

Gemfields also announced plans to establish a new and independent operational grievance mechanism in keeping with industry best practice and as advocated by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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