BHP Billiton in talks with its top two candidates for the chairmanship role

BHP Billiton, the mining giant, is believed to be holding interviews this week with Jacques Nasser, former chief executive of Ford, and John Schubert, a former managing director of Esso Australia, for the post of chairman.<br /><br />The current BHP chairman Don Argus is expected to be stepping down after the &pound;71bn iron ore joint venture with Rio Tinto. Argus joined the board at BHP in 1996, and in 1999 he assumed the role of chairman at the corporation, where he oversaw its merger with Anglo-African miner Billiton.<br /><br />BHP yesterday said that&nbsp; 70-year-old Argus had &ldquo;not announced any intention to retire at this stage&rdquo; but succession planning was &ldquo;well in hand&rdquo;. It is believed he will use next month&rsquo;s annual meeting to announce his stepping down. <br /><br />Nasser, a Lebanese-born Australian, is believed to have support from Argus for his cut-throat cost management tactics. But Schubert is thought to be keen to swap his chairmanship of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in order to take on the BHP role.