Kloppers digs in as investors demand returns

MARIUS KLOPPERS, the most powerful man in world mining, says he "loves" his job and that after almost five years as BHP Billiton's chief executive he has no intention of leaving.

MARIUS KLOPPERS, the most powerful man in world mining, says he "loves" his job and that after almost five years as BHP Billiton's chief executive he has no intention of leaving.

Having weathered a global financial crisis, the failed hostile takeover attempt of Rio Tinto, tax battles with the federal government and now the eurozone debt debacle, Mr Kloppers says he is neither bored nor worn out.

Speaking in Perth, he said he did not believe in a fixed shelf life for chief executives but was cognisant of not overstaying his welcome.

"I must confess that I am probably not the CEO that thinks that people have stayed in jobs [for a long time] ... [GE's] Jack Welch, I don't know if the last 10 years were good," Mr Kloppers said.

"But I love this job. I have had more things and experiences that I have never thought I would have.

"I mean the Rio thing was ... it was an exhilarating experience and the fact that we created an option to do it or not do it when things change was unbelievable.

"I think I have a chairman [Jac Nasser] who has fantastic complementarity to the CEO in that his North American experience is hugely valuable to us at a point in time where I am more au fait with the Australian context.

"So I am not bored, love the job, but I don't think that any CEO should do the job forever."

Concerns about the eurozone debt crisis and its impact on global growth, a setback in the US economic recovery and a slowdown in China's growth are weighing heavily on investors, who are shunning indebted companies and demanding that healthier stocks such as BHP return surplus cash.

It has put Mr Kloppers on a collision course with investors over how best to use BHP's cash, with the miner's plan to spend $80 billion on growth projects facing rejection by fund managers who would prefer immediate returns.

Mr Kloppers, who turns 50 in August, took over as BHP chief executive in September 2007 on the retirement of Chip Goodyear.

His ascension to the top job came just months after Tom Albanese replaced Leigh Clifford as Rio's chief executive, signalling the start of major leadership restructures at the two biggest diversified mining companies.

The West Australian

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