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BHP chief in shock resignation

BHP Billiton's Brian Gilberston took over the reins in July last year

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MELBOURNE, Australia (CNN) -- The chief executive of global mining house BHP Billiton, Brian Gilbertson, has quit the company citing irreconcilable differences with the boards of both the British and Australian arms of the company.

He will be replaced by the company's current chief development officer Charles Goodyear. The new CEO started with BHP in 1999 as chief financial officer.

Gilbertson had been in the top job for just six months, succeeding Paul Anderson in July 2002.

Anderson and Gilbertson negotiated a multi-billion dollar merger between the U.K. based Billiton company and Australia's iconic BHP in May 2001.

In a statement released Monday morning, BHP Billiton said Gilbertson's resignation was "in the best interests of the company and its shareholders".

"The boards of BHP Billiton Ltd and BHP Billiton Plc today announced that they had appointed Mr Charles (Chip) Goodyear as chief executive to replace Mr Brian Gilbertson who has resigned as chief executive and as a director due to irreconcilable differences," BHP said in a statement.

BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus said Goodyear -- an American national -- had the full support of the board in continuing the strategic approach announced last year.

Goodyear has been responsible for overseeing the resource giant's portfolio management and its development strategy.

"Together with Paul Anderson, Chip is widely credited with turning around the fortunes of the old BHP," the company's statement said.

"Chip is an outstanding executive with solid resources industry experience," Argus said.

"During his time at BHP Billiton, he has shown real leadership skills, financial acumen and a great ability to get things done," he said.

BHP Billiton has around 38,000 employees working in more than 100 operations in approximately 20 countries.

The company is a major global producer of commodities, including aluminium, energy coal and metallurgical coal, copper, ferro-alloys, iron ore and titanium minerals.

It also has substantial interests in oil, gas, liquefied natural gas, nickel, diamonds and silver.

Last year, it generated turnover of $17.8 billion and earnings before interest and tax of $3.2 billion.

Shares in BHP BIlliton fell more than 3 percent to Aust. $9.93 from Aust. $10.33 in early trading Monday on the Australian Stock Exchange before recovering to Aust. $10.07.

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