The former chief executive of Ford Motor Company Jac Nasser is to become chairman of mining giant BHP Billiton when Don Argus steps down in early 2010.

Nasser, who joined the BHP Billiton board as a non-executive director in 2006 and is a member of its risk and audit committee, was chosen after an 18-month selection process to replace Argus who has served as chairman for ten years.

Nasser spent 33 years at Ford and is also a partner of One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JP Morgan, and a director of British Sky Broadcasting.

BHP Billiton senior independent director John Buchanan chaired the board which oversaw the chairman selection process and is confident Nasser will make an excellent successor.

“[Nasser] combines deep international business knowledge along with outstanding financial, senior management and board experiences,” Buchanan said.