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Wednesday, September 03, 2014  

BHP profits slump 58%, CEO resigns
SYDNEY BHP Billiton said on Wednesday its boss Marius Kloppers will leave in May, weeks after the head of rival miner Rio Tinto resigned, with profits hit by weak commodity prices and cool Chinese demand.

After nearly six years at the helm, South African Kloppers will be replaced by Andrew Mackenzie, the chief executive of non-ferrous business at the world’s biggest miner.

The departure of Kloppers, who led the firm through the global financial crisis, came on the same day BHP reported that first half net profit plunged 58 per cent to $4.2 billion.

Chairman Jac Nasser gave credit to Kloppers for BHP outperforming rivals.

Demands for change surfaced in November as Kloppers failed to finalise big deals -- including a bid for Rio Tinto -- while he lost his bonus over hefty US shale gas and oil purchases.

However, the succession process had been expected to take a year or two.

Scotland-born Mackenzie, 56, who has spent 30 years working in oil, gas, petrochemicals and minerals, joined BHP Billiton in November 2008.

His appointment was “very aggressive from a timing point-of-view,” said IG Markets strategist Evan Lucas. “We knew it was coming, but this shows BHP is looking to get on to the front foot with a division it has been keen to invest in over the last few years - petroleum,” he said.

The departure of Kloppers comes after Rio chief executive Tom Albanese quit in January owing to $14.4 billion in impairment charges, while last Thursday it logged its first annual loss in 18 years.

And in October Anglo American’s US-born CEO Cynthia Carroll said she would step down owing to a weak performance as well as slumping platinum output on strike action in South Africa, which resulted in dozens of deaths. Anglo American on Friday posted an annual net loss of $1.49 billion -- its first in a decade -- after taking a $4.6 billion hit on the value of an iron-ore project in Brazil and platinum assets.

Agencies
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