BHP assures it is looking inside and out for chief exec successor

City A.M. Reporter
BHP BILLITON said yesterday it is looking inside and outside the company as well as using external advisers to help with succession plans for its chief executive, following reports the world’s biggest miner was preparing for changes at the top.

Chairman Jac Nasser told BHP’s Australian annual general meeting that planning for a successor to chief executive Marius Kloppers had started the day he was appointed and was ongoing. Kloppers oversaw phenomenal growth during the final boom years of the last decade and won plaudits from investors for reining in costs and maintaining shareholder payouts.

But BHP now faces a sharp drop in profits as it battles a tougher environment after a slowdown in top customer China has knocked commodity prices. An early exit would spare Kloppers the task of overseeing a prolonged period of sliding profits. BHP’s profit is not expected to get back to the high of 2011 for at least another five years.

In 2012-13, BHP’s bottom line is tipped to tumble by some $4bn (£2.5bn) to just under $15bn due to lower mineral prices.