You are here

Rio Tinto commits to London head office after Brexit vote

Monday, July 4, 2016 - 10:03
38952529 - 03_07_2016 - RIO TINTO-JACQUES_INTERVIEW.jpg
Rio Tinto Group's new chief executive officer pledged to keep the head office of the world's second- biggest miner in London after Britain's vote to leave the European Union raised fears businesses will flee.

[LONDON] Rio Tinto Group's new chief executive officer pledged to keep the head office of the world's second- biggest miner in London after Britain's vote to leave the European Union raised fears businesses will flee.

"No doubt whatsoever about it," Jean-Sebastien Jacques, a 44-year-old Frenchman who's also a British citizen, said in an interview at the offices in St James's Square, a short walk from Buckingham Palace. "Rio Tinto doesn't do any politics."

British voters backed a decision to leave the EU in a June 23 referendum, driving the pound to a more than 30-year low and sending shudders through equity and commodity markets around the world.

Banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co and HSBC Holdings said the result may prompt them to move thousands of jobs from London.

"We recognise the decision of the British people," said Mr Jacques, who replaced Sam Walsh on July 2. "When we did look at the level of trade we do between the UK and the EU, or the EU and the UK, it is very small."

Rio trades in London as well as Sydney, with registered shares split 80:20 between the two cities, respectively. The producer's Sydney-listed shares rose 1.8 per cent to A$46.895 at 10.24am on Monday, extending their advance this year to 5 per cent.

Mr Jacques' views echo those of former Rio CEO Tom Albanese, who said June 24 that the biggest miners will likely retain UK headquarters.

Mr Albanese, now head of Vedanta Resources Plc, said Britain offers benefits for resource companies.

"The direct impact on us is very small," Mr Jacques said. "However, we will continue to monitor the situation for obvious reasons in the coming weeks, months and years."

BLOOMBERG