Miner backs WA in­dige­nous busi­nesses

Mercury (Hobart) - - BUSINESS -

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.

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