BHP Billiton CEO to retire in May

SYDNEY (AP) — BHP Billiton announced that Marius Klopper will retire as chief executive and director, as the world’s biggest miner on Wednesday posted a 58 percent fall in half-year profit.

Klopper will be replaced on May 10, after six years at the helm, by the company’s chief executive of its non-ferrous metals division, Andrew Mackenzie, 56.

BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser said Klopper had been appointed before the global financial crisis.

“Despite an exceptionally difficult environment during his tenure, Marius and his team have delivered for shareholders, significantly outperforming our peers in terms of total shareholder returns,” Nasser said in a statement.

“He drove new investments into next generation opportunities including U.S. onshore gas and liquids and created one of the most valuable companies in the world,” he added.

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Mackenzie brought deep industry knowledge and global management experience to the CEO role, he said.

Mackenzie held senior positions with rival miner Rio Tinto before joining BHP Billiton in 2008.

The announcement came as the Anglo-Australian company posted a 58 percent fall in first half profit to $4.24 billion due to lower commodity prices and a weak U.S. dollar.

The company’s net profit in the six months to Dec. 31 was down from $9.94 billion in the previous corresponding period.

The result included $1.4 billion in one-off costs from asset sales.

Profit excluding one-off items was $5.7 billion in the six months through December, down 43 percent from $9.94 billion for the December 2011 half, due to falls in iron ore and other commodity prices in 2012.

Analysts had expected a net profit excluding one-offs of $5.69 billion.