The boss of Fortescue Metals has resigned just six months after taking on the top job, with the world’s fourth largest iron ore miner posting a steep decline in profits this morning.
Chief executive Fiona Hick has stepped down with immediate effect from her role at the Australian commodities giant. Hers is the latest in a raft of senior level resignations.
The majority of Fortescue’s senior team has left or shifted positions since 2021, with at least 10 major boardroom changes taking place in less than three years – including the exit of long-time head of finance Ian Wells in January.
“The departure of Fiona has been both friendly and mutual, and we warmly wish her the best for her future,” Fortescue said in a statement.
There is no expectation of a transition period with former head of operations Dino Otranto set to take over immediately.
Hill’s resignation follows her arrival in February, when the miner poached her from Woodside Energy in February to run the group’s core operations.
However, retreating iron ore prices have contributed to a 23 per cent decline in profits – their lowest levels since the pandemic.
Fortescue has reported a full-year net profit of $4.8bn (£3.8bn ), which was both on from last year’s $6.2bn earnings in 2022, and a significant underperformance compared to a Refinitiv estimate of $5.6bn.
It also registered a hefty $1bn impairment charge linked to its Iron Bridge magnetite project, which suffered cost blowouts during construction.
The iron ore miner has suffered from China’s sluggish revival from the pandemic, alongside rivals BHP and Rio Tinto which both also posted sharp drops in earnings this month.
Iron ore is an essential ingredient for steel making, but with China’s property market and infrastructure projects suffering huge hit from the global economic downturn, this has seen demand fall and prices subsequently slide.
Separately, the company confirmed it would stop allocating 10 per cent of its net profit to finance its green power arm Fortescue Future Industries – with funds instead subject to its capital allocation framework.
It also declared a final dividend of AUS $1.00 per share, slightly below last year’s AUS $1.21 per share.
Future challenges for the company include potential changes to the ownership structure, with founder Andrew Forrest sharing a one-third stake in the company with his former wife Nicola.
At the time of their separation, made public in July, the Forrests confirmed their decision to live apart would not affect business interests, which includes more than a one-third stake in Fortescue.
Shares in Fortescue fell more than four percent in early trading on the Australian Securities Exchange.