LONDON Rio Tinto (RIO.L) (RIO.AX) has appointed three former senior managers from the energy industry to its board as non-executive directors, including Shell's (RDSa.L) departing CFO Simon Henry, the mining company said on Friday.
Henry, who is stepping down as Chief Financial Officer at Shell after seven years on March 9, will join Rio Tinto on July 1. Former Centrica (CNA.L) chief executive Sam Laidlaw and ex-Sasol (SOLJ.J) CEO David Constable will take up their non-executive posts immediately, Rio Tinto said.
"With diverse expertise across successful international engineering, resources and financial businesses, I have no doubt that their insight and hands-on experience will strengthen the board," Rio Tinto Chairman Jan du Plessis said.
Non-executive directors Anne Lauvergeon, the former CEO of French nuclear reactor maker Areva (AREVA.PA), and Robert Brown will step down from their roles at the company's annual general meeting on May 4.
Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest miner, is emerging from a deep market downturn during which time it shed assets to repair its balance sheet.
The company declined to comment further on the appointments, which will add significant energy industry expertise to its board.
"I think you're bringing on someone like Simon Henry who's got a wealth of experience across the (oil and gas) space," Jamie Campbell, head of natural resources at Panmure Gordon, said. "But I just can't see Rio going from zero to 100 in the energy sector in this environment."
Last year, incoming chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said he was not interested in expanding into the oil and gas industry.
Henry, who has worked at Shell for 34 years, will hand over to Jessica Uhl on March 9 and leave the company on June 30.
"Royal Dutch Shell confirms that Simon Henry, Chief Financial Officer of the company, has been appointed a non-executive director of Rio Tinto with effect from July 1, 2017," Shell said in a statement on Friday.
Henry was one of the driving forces behind Shell's bumper $54 billion (43 billion pound) acquisition of BG Group last year.
(Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in Cape Town; Editing by David Goodman and Jane Merriman)