BHP Billiton Begin Slashing Costs At The Top

The new Chief Executive Officer at BHP Billiton, Brian Gilbertson, has wasted no time signaling to investors cost cutting at the world's biggest miner starts at the top: He is going to get rid of its two corporate jets.

The fifty eight year old South African is selling the Bombardier Inc. Global Express and Canadair Challenger 604 jets, which BHP acquired when it bought Gilbertson's Billiton plc. a year ago for $11.6 billion. He is also selling a Hawker 800 aircraft, which has his initials painted on as part of its registration, a helicopter and two KingAir planes.

Gilbertson, who is a former missile designer, succeeds Paul Anderson as CEO on Monday amid signs that the global economic recovery may be stalling, keeping commodity prices near historic lows and increasing pressure on the former Billiton chief to deliver on a plan to slice half a billion dollars from costs by 2005.

“Commodity prices in real terms are falling every year and if you don't cut costs you lose out,” said Michael Schroder, a fund manager at Old Mutual Asset Managers, Africa's biggest money manager, which owns four percent of BHP Billiton's London traded stock, “Gilbertson gets his people working in the right direction.”


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