Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. has appointed Herbert Smith Freehills senior partner Geoff Healy as its new general counsel.
Healy is replacing David Williamson, who joined BHP in 2010 from the former Blake Dawson. Williamson is returning to his old firm, which is now part of Ashurst. Healy, who will work in BHP’s main headquarters in Melbourne, officially starts June 3.
The appointment is part of a senior-level staff shuffle occasioned by the arrival of new chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie, who will officially take over May 10. In a statement, McKenzie said he aims to streamline the management of the company, which is the world’s largest mining company by revenue.
At his firm, where has been a partner since 1997, Healy had been the relationship partner for BHP. He specializes in regulatory matters and disputes. Healy previously represented BHP in a 2006 Royal Commission inquiry into whether the company had breached Australian laws in its dealings with Iraq. BHP was cleared on that investigation. The firm has also acted for BHP on a number of capital markets transactions, including a $1 billion bond issue last year.
Healy is not the first Herbert Smith Freehills partner to go in-house at BHP. Mike Ferraro, the firm’s current global corporate practice head, left his role as managing partner of the former Freehills to be BHP general counsel in 2007.
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