BHP Billiton Names Graham Kerr CFO, Alex Vanselow to Retire in February

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s biggest mining company, named Graham Kerr as chief financial officer to succeed Alex Vanselow, who’s aiming to take up a chief executive officer role with another group.

Kerr, 40, was most recently president of diamonds and specialty products at the company, BHP said today in a statement. He first joined the Melbourne-based company in 1994, where he worked in finance and treasury roles.

The departure of Vanselow, 49, after almost six years in the position comes as BHP posted a record profit of $23.6 billion in the last financial year. BHP, which has missed earnings estimates five of the last seven years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, cut its relative borrowing costs in half after it issued $3 billion of bonds this month.

“I’m looking for the next step in my career, so becoming the CEO of a publicly traded organization somewhere in the world, probably with a business that has similar dynamics, which is capital intensive, long-term capital,” Vanselow said on a call with reporters.

Net income rose nearly four-fold over the past seven financial years as production increased and commodity prices reached record highs. There are 15 “buy” recommendations on the Sydney-traded stock, four “holds” and no “sells”.

Shares Gain

Vanselow, a Brazilian national who has been CFO since March 2006 and with the company since 1989, will leave at the end of February 2012 to pursue personal business interests, BHP said.

BHP gained 2.4 percent to A$34.85 at the close of trading in Sydney. It’s declined 21 percent this year compared with a 15 percent fall in the benchmark index.

“The company will go through this process well,” Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG Markets Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone. “It would’ve been different if it were a chief executive officer change that’s unexpected.”

The company also announced that Mike Henry, president of marketing, will join the enlarged group management committee as group executive and chief marketing officer. Henry will be based in Singapore.

Kerr, who will be based in Melbourne, left in 2004 before rejoining in 2006.

To contact the reporters on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at ebehrmann1@bloomberg.net; Soraya Permatasari in Melbourne at soraya@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Hobbs at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net; Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net

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