Rating expat CEOs of Australian companies

June 7, 2021

Here is a list looking at the records of expat CEOs brought in to run Australian companies.

Paul Anderson: the American was 43 when poached by the BHP board from Duke Energy. He was responsible for steadying the ship at Duke, and then left a hero from BHP being responsible for the mining giant's turnaround, later returing as a non-executive director.

Paul Anthony
: he was sacked by AGL following the announcement of a $70 million downgrade of profits which were far lower than his prediction only a few months earlier.

Bob Browning:
tried to take over one company too many when he launched a management buyout for his own operation, but has resurfaced as the US boss of Perth-based boat builder Austal.

Peter Kirby: Englishman poached from ICI to run CSR in the late 1990s and did a great job, eventually spinning off the booming US building products division Rinker, which was taken over by Mexican company Cemex for $18 billion in 2007. These days serves on the Macquarie Group and Orica boards.

CK Chow
: appointed with much fanfare to run Brmables after GKN joint venture but struggled and eventually left to run the Kong Kong rail system with an excessive payout.

Brian Gilbertson: the Billiton CEO quickly ascended to the top job after the BHP merger but was fired less than 12 months after taking over for pursuing an overly ambitious merger with Rio Tinto that would have seen his chairman, Don Argus, lose face.

Chip Goodyear: appointed as BHP-Billiton CEO in great haste after South African Brian Gilbertson was fired but was judged to do a great job over the next 5 years, leaving a strong legacy for Marius Kloppers to take over.

Keith Lambert: came through the ranks at Foster's as the American head of strategy then married Bob Oatley's daughter and went from running the family-owned Rosemount to CEO of Southcorp which turned into a major debacle.

John McFarlane: Scotsman recruited to crank up the cost-cutting after Don Mercer was too slow and then did a good job at ANZ save for the Opes Prime fiasco at the end which he knew nothing about. Still in Australia as a Westfield director whilst also serving on the global board of the UK's government controlled RBS.

Les Owen: after Geoff Thomlinson steered the ship through demutualisation into the hands of the French, Liverpudlian Les Owen was sent over and really shook the place up, leaving after a stellar 5 year stint.

John Stewart: initially hired by NAB to fix its UK operations but then got to run the whole show after Frank Cicutto's sudden departure caused by the foreign currency scandal in 2004. Performed reasonably well and now serves on the Telstra board.

Jeremy Sutcliffe: the Englishman who really shook up the old Simsmetal but departed after a big US merger which took the head quarters to New York, albeit after a lot of value had been created.

Chris Tideman: took David Jones from receivership and bank control to a public float in the mid-1990s but the Englishman never really delivered the goods.

George Trumbull: hired to shake up the mutually owned AMP but was too explosive in the end and his final payout was way over the odds.