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BHP’s Crawford gets the nod to stay on

Despite concerns regarding whether or not he remains truly independent, the re-election of David Crawford, BHP Billiton’s (ASX: BHP) longest serving director, has been recommended by governance advisors ISS, CGI Glass Lewis and Ownership Matters.

According to The Australian Financial Review, Crawford – who is also chairman of Lend Lease (ASX: LLC) – gained the approval of ISS despite the fact that the group no longer considers him to be an independent director. Meanwhile, Ownership Matters believes that this will be his “last lap”, stating that, “We just don’t set a hard and fast rule (on how long directors should serve)”.

BHP said “Although Mr Crawford was first appointed in 1994, the board considers that he makes a significant contribution and that his deep knowledge of the group and broad international experience remains important, in particular in his role as finance committee chairman.”

Should a number of proposed changes to the ASX corporate governance guidelines be adopted next year, the independence of any director who has served in excess of nine years can be considered compromised. Whilst companies would still be able to declare these directors independent, they will also have to provide good reason for having reached that conclusion.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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