What does Sam Walsh's departure mean for Rio Tinto?

The 66 yr old Aussie boss of mega-miner Rio Tinto is being replaced 'growth oriented' Jean-Sebastien Jacques. Shareholders will be standing by for action.

by Andrew Saunders

Walsh is to step down officially in July and in the meantime Jacques – currently head of Rio’s copper business – becomes deputy CEO, taking over as CEO on Walsh's departure.

The appointment of the 44 year old Frenchman (who joined the firm from Tata Steel in 2011) is expected to herald a new era of expansionism at Rio, making a virtue out of the collapse in commodity prices by looking to acquire high quality assets from distressed sellers at knock-down prices.

The strategic shift marks a further step by Rio away from its traditional investor proposition, centred around a longstanding pledge always to increase its dividend. That pledge, already effectively abandoned, has now been formally put to bed.

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