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De Beers appoints first black MD

September 30, 2005 17:44 IST

De Beers, the world's biggest diamond producer, has appointed its first black managing director who will head its South African operations.

David Noko, currently operations manager at De Beers Kimberley Mines, is to take over as the head of South African De Beers with effect from January 1, 2006, the company said in a statement on Friday.

He will work with one of the top directors of De Beers, Jonathan Oppenheimer.

Noko previously worked as a professional engineer and business leader at South African Breweries and Pepsi Cola International and as chief executive of Airchefs.

De Beers came under fire earlier this year when it announced that Gary Ralfe would retire as managing director of the group next year and be succeeded by Gareth Penny, who heads the marketing arm.

Oppenheimer will become the new chairman after Noko becomes the managing director.

The South African government has hailed Noko's appointment as a breakthrough for black economic empowerment in the country.

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