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BHP Billiton chairman to step down

AAP logoAAP 20/10/2016 Prashant Mehra

BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser will step down next year after more than 10 years on the board of the resources giant.

Mr Nasser, a former chief executive at Ford Motor Company, on Thursday said he will not seek re-election at the next BHP annual general meeting.

"Last year, I had intended to announce my retirement from the board. However, the board believed it was important that I continue on as chairman to provide stability as we responded to Samarco," he told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in London, referring to the fatal dam collapse at its Brazill joint venture with Vale SA.

"Now that the basic structure of the Samarco response is in place, the findings of the expert panel have been published, the compensation and remediation programs have been initiated, and with BHP Billiton in robust shape, I have decided that I will not seek re-election at next year's AGM."

Mr Nasser has been a director of BHP Billiton since June 2006 and its chairman since 2010.

His tenure has included a China-fuelled commodities boom that pushed prices of iron ore and oil - two of the company's main commodities segments - to record highs.

But, it has also covered a prolonged commodities slump over the past two years, which pushed BHP to its worst ever loss in FY2016, resulted in a writedown of billions of dollars in the value of its US oil and gas assets and forced the company to abandon its long-standing policy of holding or increasing dividends at every result.

The announcement comes on the same day Brazilian federal prosecutors filed charges against BHP, Vale, their joint venture Samarco and its employees in relation to last year's fatal dam disaster which killed 19 people.

The three companies involved struck a $US2.3 billion ($A3.0 billion) rehabilitation agreement with Brazil government authorities in March to cover clean-up costs and damage.

However, the complete financial hit remains uncertain after a Brazilian court in July agreed to reinstate a rival civil claim of $US6.2 billion. BHP and Vale have said they will appeal the decision.

BHP has not decided on Mr Nasser's replacement, and will launch a global search. The company said it will update shareholders and the market as appropriate.

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