Miner backs WA indigenous businesses
FORTESCUE Metals chief Nev Power says the iron miner has plenty of time to find his replacement by the time he steps down in February.
“It’s a process that the board is going through to identify internal and external candidates and that process will continue,” Mr Power said.
The 59-year-old this month announced he would step down after seven years in charge of the world’s fourth biggest iron ore exporter.
Mr Power said he was committed to his role until February and, while there was no specific deadline for finding his successor, there was plenty of time to find a replacement.
“I am not going anywhere else, so they have some flexibility. But I am sure they will get it done by then,” he said.
Fortescue announced yesterday it had partnered with ANZ to set up a $50 million leasing facility for indigenousowned businesses that have contracts with the iron ore miner.
The initiative will give eligible businesses access to finance at competitive rates through ANZ in order to lease required assets, supported by a guarantee from Fortescue.
Fortescue has awarded nearly $2 billion in contracts to 105 Aboriginal-owned businesses and joint ventures since 2011 under its Billion Opportunities program.
These include contracts for freight and logistics, fuel supply, procurement of services, infrastructure maintenance and transport.
The company has committed to spending 10 per cent of total procurement with Aboriginal-owned businesses by 2021.
Mr Power said consultation with communities in the West Australia Pilbara region revealed that funding was a key impediment to the growth of indigenous businesses.
“They don’t have a credit history, a lot of them don’t have a business history to be able to put to banking institutions,” he said. “So they have been forced to hire equipment at very high rates to provide services that we are asking them to provide and that has meant their margins have been squeezed or they haven’t been able to invest in income generating assets.”
Fortescue’s guarantee will allow the development of a normal business-banking relationship, by providing a level of credit history for the business.
ANZ’s managing director for institutional banking Graham Turley said the initiative would help the businesses develop long-term capabilities.
“We believe this initiative will help Aboriginal businesses grow, create financial independence and drive economic growth and employment opportunities for local communities,” he said.