Former Amcor boss Ken MacKenzie has been suggested as the potential frontrunner to replace exiting BHP Billiton chair Jac Nasser, in a move expected to appease activist investors concerned about the miner’s sometimes poor allocation of capital.
BHP’s reputation has been sullied in recent months by major investors – first Elliott Management and more recently Tribeca Investment Partners – who are unhappy with BHP’s continued investment in US shale gas and its dual-listing structure. Some are also interested in a broader spin-off of BHP’s petroleum business.
MacKenzie – whose name has been brought in a number of sources including The Australian and Reuters – is well regarded by his peers, and won multiple top chief executive awards during his decade-long stretch as the top dog at Amcor.
Amcor, a multinational packaging company based in Victoria, rewarded MacKenzie with a $22.3 million payout when he retired from the business in April 2015.
Despite the unique downside of having almost the exact same surname as BHP’s chief executive, Andrew Mackenzie, Ken MacKenzie’s proven track record – and lack of history in the resources space – are viewed by many as major assets for his addition to the board.
The addition would be even more readily welcomed given the aforementioned attacks from investors looking to pick BHP apart. One supporter, quoted by The Australian this week, reportedly described MacKenzie as “Jesus on wheels”.
Other names being tossed about for the top job include Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted and Orica chairman Malcolm Broomhead.