19/02/2009 - 14:48

Investors push for Leng to return to Rio

19/02/2009 - 14:48

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A boardroom battle at Rio Tinto may be looming as leading shareholders reportedly want former chairman-elect Jim Leng reinstated.

Investors push for Leng to return to Rio

A boardroom battle at Rio Tinto may be looming as leading shareholders reportedly want former chairman-elect Jim Leng reinstated.

The UK's Times Online reported that Mr Leng, deputy chairman of India's Tata Steel, is willing to listen to shareholders if they ask him to return, but will not directly look to oust Rio chairman Paul Skinner.

Earlier this month, Mr Leng resigned from the Rio board, less than one month after being appointed as chairman-elect.

Times Online reported that the shareholders, disappointed with the way executives handled a $US19.5 billion Chinalco deal, are considering launching a coup to restore Mr Leng to the board.

Prior to the Chinalco announcement, Mr Leng had reportedly pushed for a rights issue rather than the Chinalco deal on behalf of the shareholders, but was overruled by the board.

The unnamed shareholders, representing nearly ₤1 billion Rio shares or 5 per cent, said they would like Mr Leng to return but were worried about destabilising the restructure plan.

Earlier this month, Rio announced that Chinalco will spend $US19.5 billion to buy-in to Rio's iron ore, copper and aluminium operations.

Shares in Rio closed up $1.23 to $51.78 today.

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