Melbourne: BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s largest mining company, promoted Marius Kloppers to chief executive officer, succeeding Charles “Chip” Goodyear, who delivered record profits during his four-year tenure.
Kloppers, head of metals, the largest profit contributor, starts on 1 October, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement on Thursday. He had been named by analysts as the likely successor to 49-year-old Goodyear, who said in February he would retire.
South Africa-born Kloppers, who is 44, takes over $17.5 billion (Rs71,750 crore) of new mining and oil projects as BHP seeks to meet soaring Chinese demand. Goodyear and Kloppers oversaw BHP’s acquisition of WMC Resources Ltd for $7.6 billion in 2005, prompting a surge in industry takeovers.
“Kloppers has been focused on building the revenue end of the company and he is very good at it,” said Peter Chilton, who helps manage the equivalent of $1.4 billion at Constellation Capital Management, in Sydney. “They were ahead of the market with WMC’s purchase, and it remains to be seen what’s next.”
Shares of BHP have risen 25% this year, more than double the 11% gain on the benchmark Australian index. The stock rose 46 cents, or 1.5%, to close at A$31.53 on the Australian Stock Exchange.
New focus: Marius Kloppers.
A trained chemical engineer, Kloppers heads a group that includes the aluminium, base metals and stainless steel materials units. The three units accounted for 57% of BHP’s earnings before interest and tax. He beat out at least one other internal candidate, Chris Lynch, who runs the company’s carbon steel business, for the top job.
Kloppers was paid $1.7 million last year, compared with the $6.5 million compensation for Goodyear.
BHP hasn’t made another major acquisition since WMC, while rivals Xstrata Plc. and Cia. Vale do Rio Doce spent $34.4 billion between them buying Falconbridge Ltd and Inco Ltd, respectively, last year. Surging profits have spurred more than $79 billion of takeover bids in the industry this year.
“Other companies have been aggressive in the marketplace in trying to build their overall positions,” said Tim Barker, who helps manage $54 billion of assets at BT Financial Group, in Sydney. “That’s an area BHP needs to focus on.”
BHP could be a possible bidder for Alcan Inc., Canada’s largest aluminium producer, and has started “early-stage” talks, the Globe and Mail said on 23 May, citing unidentified people. BHP and Alcan declined to comment.