MELBOURNE Feb 28 World no.3 miner Rio Tinto
has appointed former BHP Billiton finance chief, Chris
Lynch, as its new chief financial officer to replace the
well-respected Guy Elliott, who flagged his retirement last
Lynch left BHP after being overlooked for the top job in
2007 and was chief executive of Australian toll road operator
Transurban Group from 2008 to 2012, during which time
he joined the board of Rio Tinto.
"Chris Lynch is an extremely high-calibre addition to our
executive team with a strong pedigree of board, mining and
financial experience," Rio's new chief executive, Sam Walsh,
said in a statement.
Lynch, who will take over in April, comes into the finance
role as Rio focuses on cutting $5 billion in costs and reining
in mega projects to improve shareholder returns.
Elliott, Rio's longest serving director, is retiring after
more than 32 years at Rio Tinto, where he has been CFO since
He has managed to retire gracefully in stark contrast to
former chief executive Tom Albanese, who was sacked last month
for two misjudged acquisitions that resulted in massive
Rio has written down more than $20 billion on its $38
billion top-of-the-market takeover of Alcan in 2007, just before
the global financial crisis, and written down three-quarters of
its $4.2 billion acquisition of Riversdale Mining in 2012.
Elliott, who is also a non-executive director at Royal Dutch
Shell, gave up his bonus last year due to the Alcan
Media reports have suggested that Elliott escaped relatively
unscathed as he had not been in favour of the debt-funded Alcan
deal and also opposed Rio's controversial plan to shore up its
balance sheet in 2009 through an $18.5 billion deal that would
have given Chinese state-owned Chinalco stakes in key assets.
That deal was scrapped in favour of a tie-up with BHP
Billiton's iron ore business, which also never