The chief financial officer of Fortescue Metals Group’s mining business has departed from the company after just two months in the role. This came shortly after the division’s chief executive also left abruptly.
Fortescue, Australia’s fourth-largest producer of steel ingredient iron ore, announced on Thursday that Apple Paget, the company’s finance and tax manager, has been appointed as the acting chief financial officer for the metals unit. The departure of Christine Morris, who started in July, was not given a specific reason.
In addition to this, Fiona Hick, the CEO of the metals business, had recently stepped down and was replaced by Dino Otranto, the chief operating officer of Fortescue’s iron-ore mining operations. Hick had only been in her role since February.
Meanwhile, Guy Debelle, a former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, has left the board of Fortescue Future Industries, a part of the company’s energy unit. He has now been appointed as a non-executive director at Tivan, an Australia-listed critical-minerals company.
These high-profile departures add to a number of other senior leaders who have left in recent years, raising concerns among analysts. As a result, Fortescue’s shares fell 5.3% in Sydney on Friday.
Analyst Paul McTaggart from Citi commented earlier this week that these frequent changes within the top ranks of the $43 billion company are unsettling for the market. He described the management changes as messy.
Fortescue Announces Business Restructuring
Fortescue, the multinational company founded and chaired by billionaire Andrew Forrest, has recently undergone a significant restructuring of its business operations. The restructuring involves the appointment of executives who will report directly to the board for both Fortescue’s metals business, primarily focused on its lucrative iron-ore operations, and its energy business, which aims to spearhead investments in clean-energy projects.
One of Fortescue’s major initiatives is to make five final investment decisions on clean-energy projects by the end of 2023. In line with this, the company announced that it will no longer allocate just 10% of its profits to fund its clean-energy arm. Going forward, all investments pursued by the energy unit will be equally eligible for funding alongside mining and metals investments.
While the departure of an executive named Hicks from the company was described as “friendly and mutual” by Fortescue, Andrew Forrest hinted at potential disagreements within the organization regarding the direction and approach towards clean energy. During a recent presentation, he emphasized the importance of maintaining a steadfast commitment to the decided future path, stating, “When the group decides on a future, we stick to that future. Individual ambitions become secondary.”
Hicks expressed her anticipation for spending quality time with family and friends as she contemplates her next career move, while another executive named Morris was unavailable for comment.
Fortescue, in its recent update, reported a net profit of $4.80 billion for the 12 months ending in June, compared to $6.20 billion the previous year. The decline in profits can be attributed to a noncash impairment against a mining project, coupled with higher operating costs and weaker iron-ore prices.