BHP Elects Ken MacKenzie To Succeed Jac Nasser As Chairman

- Mining giant BHP on June 16 named Australian packaging executive Ken MacKenzie as its next chairman.

Despite running one of Australia's truly worldwide companies, Mr MacKenzie, who is 52-years old, kept a relatively low profile while steering Amcor, which has a market capitalisation of $19 billion.

The appointment puts Mr. MacKenzie in the firing line as BHP faces criticism from activist investors over its underperformance and accusations long-serving directors stood by while billions of dollars were misspent on acquisitions and mistimed share buybacks.

Elliott in response said it supported the appointment as a first step in bringing much-needed change to the direction of the company.

The New York-based fund's call for new directors and a review of management has shifted some of the focus to the future of CEO Andrew Mackenzie, in his position since 2013 and who met with Elliott for talks in May.

That could place MacKenzie, who joined BHP's board just a year ago, in good standing.

"But what will commence is the chorus of shareholders seeking change and rejuvenation of the board".

A burst dam at Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and Brazil's Vale, killed 19 people and caused the country's worst ever environmental disaster in late 2015, when mud and waste destroyed a village and polluted the Rio Doce river. Heidrick & Struggles, a leading global recruitment firm, was hired to review internal and external candidates in the search for his replacement, according to BHP's statement.

The Canadian executive, who lives in Australia, has over 23 years of worldwide business experience and, according to Vadera, "has a proven track record of delivering value for shareholders".

MacKenzie's resume reads like it was created to address the shareholder-value arguments at the heart of Elliott's complaint.

Mr. Nasser in a statement said Mr. MacKenzie was an excellent choice to lead the board. NY hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. has led a series of attacks in recent months, calling for a sweeping overhaul of the world's largest listed mining company. His predecessor, Don Argus, was also on BHP's board for several years before becoming chairman. Mr. MacKenzie and the rest of the board weren't available to comment, BHP said. Anglo American Plc's incoming chairman Stuart Chambers, who previously had the same role at chipmaker ARM Holdings Plc, is scheduled to take his post from November.

  • Zachary Reyes