BHP Billiton Chairman Don Argus today announced Graham Kraehe, formerly Managing Director and CEO of Southcorp Ltd, will be appointed Chairman of BHP Steel Limited, which is scheduled to be publicly listed before the end of the 2002 financial year.
On listing, BHP Steel is expected to be one of Australia's 50 largest public companies with total assets of A$4.7 billion, an extensive network of customers around the world and operations throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia and in the United States.
BHP Billiton Chairman Don Argus said: "Graham Kraehe is one of Australia's most respected business leaders. He has extensive experience in the manufacturing sector and a strong track record in the delivery of increased returns to shareholders.
"Graham will provide excellent leadership skills to the Board of BHP Steel and great support to Kirby Adams and his team in the lead-up to public listing and beyond. He will bring a unique combination of skills to the new company."
Mr Kraehe was the Managing Director and CEO of Southcorp Limited from 1994 to February this year. He is currently a Board member of News Corp, Brambles and National Australia Bank and was formerly a Board member of Email Ltd. Previously, he held positions as Managing Director of Pacifica and Monroe/Wylie.
BHP Billiton also announced Ron McNeilly, currently an Executive Director of BHP Billiton, would be appointed Deputy Chairman of BHP Steel and Kirby Adams would be Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the new company.
Mr Argus said: "Ron McNeilly has more than 30 years experience in the steel industry and is well known by BHP Steel's customers in Australia and overseas. His experience and network of relationships will be invaluable as BHP Steel develops as a separate entity.
"Kirby Adams has been President and CEO of BHP Steel since March 2000. He has a strong track record in the leadership of businesses within BHP Billiton and, previously, for six years was both CEO and Chief Operating Officer of the world's largest titanium metals company," Mr Argus said.
It has also been confirmed that the new company will be named BHP Steel Limited for the first two years after public listing.
Speaking from the new company's head office at 120 Collins Street Melbourne, Mr Kraehe said: "Maintaining the BHP Steel name and brand recognises the strength of the brand amongst employees, customers and communities, and the excellent reputation developed by BHP Steel over many years.
"The decision maintains the link with BHP Steel's great history, while providing time to educate our customers, investors, the media and others about BHP Steel as a stand-alone business, separate from BHP Billiton."
President and CEO of BHP Steel Mr Adams said "BHP Steel is a proven performer in the global steel industry, and our products underpin much of New Zealand and Australia's manufacturing and construction industry.
"Our employees, and the investments we have made over the past decade in product innovation, technology and manufacturing facilities, provide us with a strong platform for growth, particularly in Asia," he said.
Mr Adams said he was looking forward to working with the new Board to continue the strengthening of BHP Steel and to deliver improved returns and growth opportunities for its shareholders.
"We are looking forward to this new phase in BHP Steel's great history. We have made significant progress in recent years in restructuring our business to improve profitability and ensure a strong, vital business for the benefit of our customers, suppliers, employees and the communities in which we operate," he said
BHP Steel will announce further appointments to the Board of the new company together with details of the timetable for the public listing process in the near future.
Dr. Robert Porter,
Phone: + 61 3 9609 3540
Mobile: +61 419 587 456
e-mail: Robert Porter
Phone: +61 3 9609 4157
Mobile: +61 419 546 245
e-mail: Mandy Frostick
Steel External Affairs
Phone: +61 3 9609 3685
Mobile: +61 419 585 298
e-mail: David Goodwin