BHP Billiton looks for new CEO outside mining

BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP), the world's largest mining company, has not been successful in its quest to find a suitable successor to Marius Kloppers who is approaching his sixth year as chief.

According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, the company —which embarked upon a new CEO search in early November— has hired a recruiter to help it search externally and outside the mining sector.

"It isn't such a narrow field once you broaden it out to say we are prepared to look for someone outside the sector," Lindsay Maxsted, one of BHP’s directors, was quoted as saying.

Klopper led BHP through the global financial crisis, with the company weathering the storm with the strongest balance sheet among the main global miners.

The executive took upon the role of BHP's CEO in 2007, the same year that other mining giants such as Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO), Anglo American (LSE:AAL) and Xstrata (LON:XTA) implemented key changes to their senior personnel.

Five years later another round of management changes is in the works.  Cynthia Carroll on the way out as Anglo American's CEO as soon as a successor is appointed, and Xstrata’s Mick Davis is to be ousted once the company merges with Swiss peer Glencore (LSE:GLEN).

Analysts point out that the CEO's of major miners are in a perilous position at present, with adverse conditions for the industry leading to ongoing stock declines.

Klopper is safer than most however, as BHP has fared the downturn in commodities prices far better than its peers due to its considerable exposure to oil.

Image: BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers interviewed by News on ABC.

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