Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chile: Ideology Potentially Linked to Dismissal of CODELCO CEO Thomas Keller

According to The Latin American Tribune, the Board of Directors of Chilean state-run miner Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, ousted CEO Thomas Keller early Friday (June 6) without providing an explanation for the decision.

It said in a regulatory filing that board members voted 5-3, with one abstention, to remove Keller.

Keller's departure, effective June 13, was foreseeable given his disagreements with the company’s new board, which has been partially overhauled by center-left President Michelle Bachelet.

COMMENT:  Keller had said he would not stay on if the current board did not support his vision for the company.

The CEO had spearheaded an ambitious investment plan aimed at boosting output at Codelco’s aging mines and reducing production costs, even as global copper prices have been trending downward due to an economic slowdown in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the red metal.

Codelco Chairman Oscar Landerretche denied that the ouster of Keller, who became chief executive in 2012 during the administration of conservative President Sebastian Piñera, was politically motivated.

Technical considerations will be paramount in the search for a new CEO, according to Landerretche, who did not give a timeframe for finding a replacement.

An interim CEO will be named in the meantime.