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New chairman for BHP Billiton

Newly-elected BHP
Billiton chairman
Jac Nasser
London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 04August 2009 – The world’s largest miner “’ BHP Billiton Limited “’ has named veteran former Ford Motor Company chief executive Jac Nasser as its new chairman, following an 18-month selection process. He will succeed Don Argus, who will retire in early 2010 after more than 10 years as chairman.

Nasser “’ whose reputation as a cost-cutter earned him the nickname "Jac the Knife" “’ was rumoured to be one of the front runners for the job. He joined the BHP Billiton board as a non-executive director in 2006, and is a member of the board’s risk and audit committee.

Nasser, 61, was born in Lebanon and migrated at the age of four to Australia, where he later began his 33-year career with Ford. He was named head of the global automotive business in 1996 and became CEO in 1998. He was ousted as CEO in October 2001, a year when the automaker reported a US$5.45 billion (R43 billion) loss.

The loss in 2001 included the cost of eliminating 35 000 jobs, or about 10% of Ford’s workforce, and closing at least three North American assembly plants. Reuters reports that one of the leading criticisms of Nasser among Wall Street analysts at the time was that he had gone on an acquisitions binge during his tenure at Ford, burning through cash to buy up companies like Volvo cars and Land Rover.