Finding a new ceo could be tougher than the job Asarco aims to fill

Nov 04, 2005 | 05:17 AM | Sean Barry

It would be fair to say that the want ad circled below could be the job listing for the position of chief executive officer at Asarco Inc. after a year in which the company's problems have escalated. Those problems were capped by the recent resignation of Daniel Tellechea Salido as Asarco's president and chief executive officer.

As AMM went to press, an announcement on Tellechea's successor was imminent. Sources close to the company speculated that it was likely to be an internal candidate.

Tellechea was brought in from parent Grupo Mexico SA de CV to run the struggling company after it was acquired by the Mexico City-based metals producer in 1999. But pressure mounted considerably in recent months and Tellechea's decision to walk away did not surprise many in the industry. Answerable not only to Grupo Mexico but also to his own board, creditors and the bankruptcy judge, Tellechea was caught in the middle, trade sources said.

"It was an untenable position. It was so difficult because of the various parties involved . . . all bent on their own objectives," said economist George Leaming, who runs Western Economic Analysis Center in Marana, Ariz. "You have to judge his performance at the company by the results they (Grupo Mexico) were looking for. If Grupo wanted him to get the men back to work, then he failed. But if they wanted the strike to continue, then he succeeded."

Leaming said that in most mining companies there are several executives that will fancy their chances of running the company. "If Asarco follows the pattern of other mining companies then there are normally half a dozen directors that believe they could do a better job," he said. "I'm sure a veteran of the copper industry from outside of Asarco or Grupo Mexico might also be interested."....

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