PotashCorp CEO to step down, replacement named

PotashCorp’s CEO Bill Doyle will step down from his post at the Saskatoon-based fertilizer giant at the end of June. (Dave Bedard photo)

Saskatchewan-based fertilizer giant PotashCorp has announced its CEO’s plans to step down in July and has named a copper mining firm’s CEO as his replacement.

Bill Doyle, PotashCorp’s CEO since 1999, announced Sunday he will step down as chief executive after 27 years with the company, and remain as a “senior advisor” through June 2015.

Jochen Tilk, who until March last year was CEO of Toronto copper mining firm Inmet Mining, will move to Saskatoon and become PotashCorp’s president and CEO effective July 1.

“PotashCorp has grown and benefitted enormously under Bill’s leadership and the strategies that have created tremendous long-term value,” Tilk said in a release Sunday. “I share his philosophy for running the company and plan to build on this strong foundation.”

“Jochen is known for his focus on operational excellence and disciplined growth, and the entire board agreed he was the right person to lead the company forward,” PotashCorp chairman Dallas Howe said in the same release.

The potash firm hailed Tilk for his role in “asset optimization, organic growth and strategic acquisitions” at Inmet, building “a portfolio of facilities that was recognized as a leader in quality and cost.”

Inmet, whose overseas assets included copper, zinc and gold mining projects, last year became part of Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals in a $5.1 billion hostile takeover which ended in March 2013 with the resignation of Tilk and nine other directors from the Inmet board.

“The best assets”

PotashCorp, Doyle said Sunday, “is in great shape and I am more enthusiastic about the future than I have ever been, especially with the addition of Jochen Tilk.

“PotashCorp has the best people, the best assets in the business and excellent long-term growth prospects. As the world’s largest producer of crop nutrients, we will continue to play an important role in improving global food security.”

Doyle’s departure, however, comes in the wake of layoffs last December for over 1,000 PotashCorp staff — an 18 per cent cut in its workforce, made in part by suspending production at one of its mills at Lanigan, Sask.; cutting production at its Cory mine near Saskatoon; and halting production at its Penobsquis mine at Sussex, N.B.

The cuts followed underwhelming quarterly financials at PotashCorp due to soft potash demand, ample supplies and last summer’s breakup of Belarusian Potash Co. (BPC) — a rival cartel to North American-led Canpotex, of which PotashCorp is a major member.

Russian potash miner Uralkali last July quit BPC, its joint venture with partner Belaruskali. BPC’s breakup in turn left many international potash buyers “waiting in anticipation of weaker prices,” Doyle said last October.

PotashCorp’s recent history also included defeating a 2010 takeover bid from major global mining firm BHP Billiton. PotashCorp’s defense was helped by the federal government’s rejection of Billiton’s $38.6 billion bid.

Billiton, a major presence in iron, copper, coal and petroleum, is developing its own Saskatchewan potash mining play at Jansen, Sask., with an eye on potash as a “potential fifth” pillar of its business. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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