Kloppers to replace Goodyear as BHP chief

SOUTH African Marius Kloppers has won the race to replace Chip Goodyear as chief executive of the world’s biggest miner, BHP Billiton.

Paul Garvey

Kloppers and BHP stainless steel president Chris Lynch were widely considered the two leading candidates to replace Goodyear, who announced his intention to retire from the company in February.

Melbourne-based Kloppers, who at 44 is the youngest member of BHP’s board, said he was humbled by the “extraordinary opportunity” offered to him by the board.

Analysts contacted by MiningNews.net this morning said they were not surprised by Kloppers’ appointment.

One analyst, who wished to remain anonymous, said the appointment signalled the beginning of a new era at BHP.

“Chip’s job was to get the systems right, back then it was a company that was trying to get itself together as an entity, as a globalised company, and Chip did very, very well,” the analyst said.

He said Kloppers’ key objective would be to position BHP for the next 15-20 years of growth – an objective that was unlikely to satisfy the short-term desires of the market.

“Marius is a very value-driven man. He’s looking 15-20 years ahead, that’s his job.”

Kloppers’ rise to one of the most important jobs in mining began in the petrochemicals of diversified South African resources company Sasol.

After obtaining his MBA from Insead in France, he joined McKinsey & Co as a consultant.

He joined Billiton in 1993 in the company’s aluminium business, and played a key role in the merger of that company with BHP.

Kloppers will take up the post from October 1 following Goodyear’s September 30 departure from the CEO’s chair. Goodyear will leave BHP altogether at the end of the year.

Shares in BHP were up 63c at $31.70 apiece in morning trade today.

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