Paul Anderson is returning to the scene of
success by taking a seat around the BHP Billiton board table as chairman Don
Argus turns to the US and old mates to appoint two new directors.
The other is another US
resident well-known to Argus – former Ford chief Jacques Nasser. Nasser doesn’t come with as
glowing a CV as Anderson – he was fired from the top job at Ford as the company went
backwards on his watch and he’s on the board of Murdoch’s BSkyB. The performance
of Murdoch directors over the years tends to raise a suspicion that they know
how to agree rather than disagree.
But most importantly, Jacques is also a
director of Brambles – another company chaired by Don Argus. Nice and clubby
Anderson’s time commitments at Duke Energy – another successful turnaround –
are winding down as he surrenders the CEO moniker, remaining as chairman. He kept
his Qantas board seat when he took on Duke but two other titles on his CV make
appointment more interesting than most: a member of
the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and Adjunct
Professor in Global Sustainability at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
Anderson is a champion of introducing a carbon tax as a “no
tears” way of making an impact on greenhouse gases, as Crikey has previously
reported. As BHP’s CEO, he found OK Tedi’s pollution untenable but when the PNG
government refused to close the mine, he effectively gave BHP’s
majority stake in the operation to the people of PNG in the
biggest philanthropic act by any Australian company.
The bottom line though was that he
restructured BHP and set it up to reap the rich rewards now flowing to its
happy shareholders. As the press release says: “Paul has an extensive background in natural resources
and energy and, as an architect of the merger that created BHP Billiton, has a
deep understanding of the strategy behind the company’s success.”
His reappearance on the board might calm
some nerves about whether the austere Chip Goodyear intends to stay in Melbourne indefinitely.