Rio chairman du Plessis confirms exit

Britain's BT (BT.L) has appointed Jan du Plessis, chairman of miner Rio Tinto (RIO.AX), as its next chairman, taking over from Mike Rake who has led the telecoms group for 10 years.

Mr du Plessis confirmed in a statement on Thursday that he will retire as Rio Tinto chairman no later than the company's 2018 annual general meeting.

The board sacks CEO Tom Albanese after a $US3 billion writedown of the Riversdale project in Mozambique bought two years earlier, appoints iron ore head Sam Walsh as his replacement.

The departure means the chairman roles at Rio and BHP Billiton will be in flux at the same time, with BHP chairman Jac Nasser flagging his departure in November.

"Our desire was to find someone with deep experience of leading high profile organisations and who would also have credibility with our key stakeholders", Nick Rose, senior independent director at BT who led the search for a new chair, commented in the statement.

Jean-Sébastien "J-S" Jacques took up the chief executive role at Rio Tinto a year ago, replacing company veteran Sam Walsh.

"Today's announcement is the next step in that plan", he said.

The company also faces investigations in the US, UK and Australia over the alleged bribe payment in 2011.

Mr du Plessis has previously served as chairman of British American Tobacco, chairman of drinks giant SABMiller Plc and non-executive director of Marks and Spencer Group.

BT's share price has fallen marginally into the red in early morning trade, having slipped 0.37 percent lower to 327.49p as of 08:01 GMT, in line with losses in the broader London market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index now 0.37 percent worse off at 7,307.16 points.

  • Zachary Reyes