Freeport-McMoRan Inc. Executive Chairman James R. Moffett, a legendary wildcatter who helped discover and develop one of the world’s biggest gold and copper mines, is stepping down months after activist investor Carl Icahn took a 8.5% stake in the company.
Mr. Moffett is the second energy executive to leave his post this month under Mr. Icahn’s watchful eye, following the ouster of Charif Souki, chief executive of natural-gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc.
The shake-ups are another sign of the commodities price rout in energy and mining and indicate a shift in leadership ranks from pioneering company founders to more seasoned crisis managers.
Shares in Freeport-McMoRan, the nation’s largest mining company, in midday trading on Monday fell 8% to $6.95, and are down by more than two-thirds so far this year. In October, it reported a $3.8 billion third quarter loss after a large writedown on its oil-and-gas division.
Mr. Moffett, known as “Jim Bob,” was named chairman emeritus. Gerald J. Ford, the company’s lead independent director and chairman of bank and insurance holding company Hilltop Holdings Inc., will become non-executive chairman. Richard Adkerson, 68 years old, remains chief executive officer.
“During his over 50-year career in the natural resource industry, Jim Bob has become an icon as an explorationist,” said Mr. Ford.
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