FMG eyes new era post-Power

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS REVIEW - MATT CHAM­BERS

Fortes­cue Me­tals chair­man An­drew For­rest says his next chief ex­ec­u­tive will be charged with over­see­ing a new phase of growth at the na­tion’s third-big­gest iron ore miner that could see it branch out of the min­ing in­dus­try, af­ter man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Nev Power yes­ter­day gave no­tice he would step down at the start of next year.

Mr Power will re­tire in Fe­bru­ary af­ter a pe­riod in which he took the com­pany For­rest had set on track to be one of the world’s big­gest iron ore min­ers and com­pleted its growth pro­gram. Then, as mar­kets turned for the worse, Mr Power put the com­pany on a sta­ble foot­ing with a strong bal­ance sheet, low costs and re­li­able op­er­a­tions.

Fortes­cue op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Greg Lil­ley­man is seen as the lead­ing in­ter­nal can­di­date to suc­ceed Mr Power. Mr Lil­ley­man joined the com­pany in Jan­uary af­ter leav­ing Rio Tinto’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

Fi­nance di­rec­tor El­iz­a­beth Gaines, a for­mer Hel­loworld chief ex­ec­u­tive who was also ap­pointed in Jan­uary from the ranks of Fortes­cue’s in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors, is also seen as a po­ten­tial can­di­date. But Mr For­rest said the com­pany would also con­duct an ex­ter­nal search.

“Fortes­cue will be en­ter­ing a pe­riod of growth, with­out us­ing its bal­ance sheet, tak­ing large bets with its rep­u­ta­tion and al­low­ing other in­vestors to come with us on that,” Mr For­rest said af­ter an- nounc­ing Mr Power’s re­tire­ment.

“Nev sees that as a new era of growth for the com­pany, and if an op­ti­mal du­ra­tion of a chief ex­ec­u­tive is five to eight years, then this is a great time (for a tran­si­tion) and I ap­plaud his judg­ment.”

Mr Power’s strong stand­ing among in­vestors was ev­i­dent in the re­ac­tion of the share price af­ter the an­nounce­ment — it fell 4 per cent to $5.57 yes­ter­day.

Mr For­rest paid trib­ute to Mr Power, who be­came Fortes­cue’s sec­ond chief ex­ec­u­tive in July 2011, af­ter join­ing the com­pany as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer six months ear­lier. “He re­ally has ex­e­cuted his duty to the high­est de­gree and met or ex­ceeded the of­ten un­rea­son­able stan­dards set by his board,” Mr For­rest said. “We could not be more pleased with his stew­ard­ship and re­spect his de­ci­sion that it is time for the next chap­ter of Fortes­cue to be­gin.”

The chair­man said he was sad to see Mr Power go, but that he was ex­cited about the next growth phase for Fortes­cue.

Mr Power, a Queens­lan­der who Mr For­rest de­scribed as the hard­est worker he had ever met, said he had not had more than three weeks off in one go since he left school at 15 to joint Mount Isa Mines. “When I joined Fortes­cue al­most seven years ago I was ab­so­lutely en­thralled by what the com­pany had achieved in such a small space of time, and some seven years later I con­tinue to be en­thralled about what the Fortes­cue team are achiev­ing,” Mr Power said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to tak­ing some time off and work­ing on a few of my per­sonal busi­ness in­ter­ests in­clud­ing help­ing my son on the cat­tle sta­tion.”

Nev Power

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