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ASX 200 rises, Rio chair will leave, Nine gets a new CEO

ASX 200
Credit: Cimexus

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) went up today by 0.8% to 6,818 points.

Australian GDP was in focus today as it rose by 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Here are some of the highlights from the ASX today.

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO)

The ASX 200 miner announced today that the Chair Simon Thompson has informed the board will not seek re-election as a non-executive director at the 2022 annual general meeting (AGM).

Sam Laidlaw, senior independent director of Rio Tinto plc, and Simon McKeon, senior independent director of Rio Tinto Limited, will lead the search for Mr Thompson’s successor.

It was also announced that Michael L’Estrange, a non-executive director, will retire from the board at the conclusion of the 2021 AGMs.

Mr Thompson spoke about the company’s successes and failure with the Juukan Gorge rock shelters:

I am proud of Rio Tinto’s achievements in 2020, including our outstanding response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a second successive fatality-free year, significant progress with our climate change strategy, and strong shareholder returns. However, these successes were overshadowed by the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters at the Brockman 4 operations in Australia and, as Chairman, I am ultimately accountable for the failings that led to this tragic event.

Over the past eight months, we have engaged extensively with investors, government, civil society, indigenous leaders and, most importantly, traditional owners to learn the lessons from Juukan Gorge. We have taken decisive action to address the weaknesses identified in our risk management and governance, while also acknowledging the need to improve our work culture and to rebuild relationships. In January, we appointed a new chief executive, Jakob Stausholm, who has moved swiftly to appoint his new executive team and has identified his key priorities to rebuild the trust that we have lost.

The Rio Tinto share price went up 2% today.

Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC)

The Nine share price fell by 1% today.

The diversified media business announced that it has appointed Mike Sneesby as the new CEO, effective 1 April 2021, following the decision of Hugh Marks, the current CEO, to step down.

Who is Mr Sneesby? He has been the CEO of Stan Entertainment since its creation. Mr Sneesby was formerly the CEO of an e-commerce joint venture between Microsoft and Nine Entertainment called Cudo.

The chair of Nine Entertainment, Peter Costello, said:

We are pleased to make such a significant appointment. Under Mike’s leadership, Nine will be able to maintain the strong momentum it has built in audience, subscribers, content, revenue and earnings. Mike is well placed to continue to drive Nine’s transformation as a digitally led business which is actively adapting to meet the contemporary media consumption habits of Australians.

Mr Costello also pointed out that under Mr Mark’s leadership, the market capitalisation of the business grew from $1.3 billion to $5 billion.

Macmahon Holdings Limited (ASX: MAH) and St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM)

The two resource-related businesses announced that Macmahon has been selected as the mining contractor for the Gwalia underground gold project.

Macmahon will provide all underground mining services to the mine in Western Australia from May 2021. Those services include mine development, ground support, production drilling and blasting, loading and trucking, shotcreting and paste fill reticulation.

The initial contract term will be for five years, with St Barbara having the option to extend for a further 3-year period. Macmahon estimates that the contract will generate approximately $500 million in revenue over the initial 5-year term, which will require capital expenditure of around $40 million over FY21 and FY22.

Macmahon managing director and CEO Michael Finnegan said:

We are delighted to be selected for the Gwalia operation by St Barbara, a well-established and responded gold producer. We will work very closely with our new client to ensure continuity of operations during the transition period. This new project will make an important contribution to our strategic objective to diversify and expand our underground business.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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