BHP appoints Nasser as new chairman

BHP Billiton yesterday appointed Australian business heavyweight Jacques Nasser to succeed outgoing chairman Don Argus when he retires in early 2010.

Nasser, 61, has served on the company’s board as non-executive director since 2006 and is member of its Risk and Audit Committee.

He beat out the only other contender, Commonwealth Bank chairman John Schubert, in a secret ballot.

Prior to this, Nasser worked for global car giant Ford Motors for 33 years and was appointed as chief executive officer and president from 1999 to 2001.

He is also currently a partner of One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JP Morgan, a director of British Sky Broadcasting and a member of Allianz’s International Advisory Board.

BHP Billiton senior independent director John Buchanan chaired the board during the ballot.

“Jac Nasser will make an excellent successor to Don Argus as chairman. He combines deep international business knowledge along with outstanding financial, senior management and board experiences,” he said.

The company paid tribute to Argus, who was chairman for 10 of his 13 years on the board.

“Don has led BHP Billiton to the distinctive leadership role in its sector,” the company said.

As part of the transition, Argus will stand for re-election at the upcoming annual general meetings and will retire from the board in early 2010.

The appointment of Nasser marks the end of an extensive 18-month selection process, in which international recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles was engaged as independent adviser.

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