MELBOURNE Feb 20 Top global miner BHP Billiton
appointed the head of its base metals business as its
new chief executive on Wednesday to replace Marius Kloppers, who
will step down in May.
The announcement came as BHP reported a 43 percent drop in
half-year profit, its worst half-year slide in more than a
decade, as expected, pummelled by weaker metals prices.
It also booked $3 billion in writedowns on its Worsley
alumina and Nickel West assets, matching analysts forecasts, as
aluminium prices have slumped due to a sharp increase in Chinese
supply that global producers failed to anticipate.
Andrew Mackenzie, 56, who joined BHP from rival Rio Tinto
in 2008, will be taking over as the company battles to
protect margins by reining in costs in a weaker commodity
"The board has decided that Andrew is the right person to
lead BHP Billiton in a changing global environment," the company
said in a statement.
BHP last year shelved $40 billion in projects and shut some
loss-making coal mines, as the industry battled with soaring
costs, a strong Aussie dollar and sliding commodity prices.
In further moves to protect its margins, it said on
Wednesday it had cut $944 million in costs over the past half
Profit before one-off items slid to $5.68 billion for
July-December 2012 from $10 billion a year earlier. The result
was in line with analysts' average forecast for a profit of
Net profit fell to $4.2 billion with the aluminium and
nickel writedowns offset by gains from the sales of its Richards
Bay minerals stake, its Browse gas stake, its diamonds business,
and Yeelirie uranium deposit.
BHP raised its interim dividend by 3.6 percent to 57 cents,
also in line with analysts' forecasts.
Rival Rio Tinto last week reported its first ever
full-year loss after taking $14.4 billion in writedowns on its
aluminium business and Mozambican coal assets, but appeased
investors with a surprise 15 percent rise in its annual