Andrew Mackenzie is keen for the long haul at BHP Billiton (Financial Times – September 10, 2018)

After BHP Billiton announced results last month, its chief executive Andrew Mackenzie paused to reflect. “We have made BHP a much simpler, stunningly simple company,” he said as the miner declared a record final dividend.

Once the Anglo-Australian group completes the sale of its onshore US oil business later this year, Mr Mackenzie will preside over a company focused on just four commodities — copper, iron ore, coking coal and offshore oil — and 13 operated assets.

That’s very different from the company he took charge of in 2013, which had interests in 41 projects across 13 countries and six continents. But any suggestion that now might be a good time to step down is quickly dismissed by the Scotland-born geologist, who says he has many more ideas to improve the company.

“I’m very excited about . . . how we can further transform the business,” he told the Financial Times. “And it’s not unreasonable to think I am the right guy to lead it.” Mr Mackenzie’s tenure as BHP’s chief executive has been dominated by a drive to sweat its assets harder and streamline the business so it can focus on the resources and commodities that can make a real difference to profitability.

It’s a strategy that has yielded more than $12bn in productivity gains over the past five years and, as Mr Mackenzie is quick to point out, more than $12bn of free cash flow in each of the past two years. Net debt now sits at $10.9bn, down from $29.1bn in 2013.

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