BHP Billiton names Ken MacKenzie to succeed Jac Nasser as its new chairman

Courtney Goldsmith
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(FILES) This file photo taken on Februar
Activist investor Elliott supported the new appointment (Source: Getty)

Mining giant BHP Billiton has appointed a new chairman to succeed Jac Nasser amid an activist investor's calls to overhaul the board.

Ken MacKenzie, the former boss of global packaging giant Amcor, will take up the reins as chairman on 1 September.

Nasser announced he would step down in October after seven years leading the board of the world's biggest miner.

MacKenzie has worked on the BHP board as a non-executive director since September 2016. During his 23-year stint at Amcor, he spent time working as both managing director and chief executive.

"It is an honour and a privilege to succeed Jac Nasser as chairman of BHP. Under his leadership, BHP has been transformed into a simpler, more productive and more resilient company," said MacKenzie.

He added: "As incoming chairman, I look forward to engaging with shareholders and other stakeholders over the coming weeks to understand their perspectives. I am committed to the creation of long-term value for all of our shareholders and will work tirelessly with the board and management to achieve this."

Activist investor Elliott Advisors has made repeated calls for changes to the structure of the company in order to improve shareholder returns, and earlier this week it went further, demanding an overhaul to the board.

However, investors were positive about the board's appointment today.

"It's an important first step in the right direction. Hopefully it creates a platform to be able to review what's amiss with the company in the eyes of some and address the concerns," said Brenton Saunders, an analyst at BT Investment Management, which owns shares in BHP, according to Reuters.

Elliott said the new appointment was a "constructive step in bringing much needed change to the direction of BHP".

"As a large investor in BHP, Elliott encourages Mr. MacKenzie to use his leadership skills to address BHP’s poor capital allocation and underperformance, nominate diverse and qualified directors, and review the executive management team," the firm said.

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