VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Teck Resources Ltd has held talks with Dominic Barton, the global managing partner of consulting firm McKinsey & Co, about becoming the Canadian miner’s next chairman, replacing Norman Keevil, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Keevil, 79, Teck’s chairman since 2001 and the patriarch of the Keevil family that controls the $12.3 billion Vancouver-based miner, could retire at the company’s next annual shareholders meeting, set for April, the people added.
Teck did not respond directly to questions about the talks with Barton and Keevil’s possible retirement.
London-based Barton, a Ugandan-born Canadian who has been managing director of McKinsey since 2009 and is due to step down next June, declined to comment.
McKinsey did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Teck’s chief executive, Donald Lindsay, who is also a director of the company, met with Barton earlier this year to discuss the chairman’s role, one of the people said.
It is unclear if the talks are ongoing and whether Barton was interested in the job. It is also unclear whether Teck’s board has held talks with other potential candidates.
A Teck spokesman pointed to the company’s 2017 management proxy circular, which said the company maintains a “standing list of potential candidates as directors in anticipation of the need to replace existing directors.”
The potential appointment of an outsider as chairman would be rare in Teck’s history and could signal a shift in the way the family-controlled business is run.
Teck is one of the world’s biggest producers of zinc and steel-making coal, and also produces copper and gold. It owns mines in North and South America and has investments in Canada’s oil sands.
Barton, 55, who grew up in the Vancouver region, has been with McKinsey for some 30 years, including stints in the firm’s Asia operations. He serves on various business advisory bodies and chairs the Canadian finance minister’s advisory council on economic growth.
Keevil, who joined Teck in 1962 as vice president of exploration, rose to chief executive in 1981, a position he held until 2001 when he became chairman. His father, also named Norman Keevil, was CEO and chairman of Teck before him.
The wealthy Keevil family maintains control of Teck through their dominant ownership of the company’s “A” class of shares, which carry 100 votes per share.
The more numerous but lower-voting “B” class shares are widely held by institutions. Such a dual-share structure is fairly widespread among Canadian listed companies and has its supporters and detractors.
Teck’s biggest institutional investor is Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp, which recently reduced its holding by nearly half, to 10.4 percent of the company’s “B” shares.
Keevil’s son, Norman Keevil III, is a director of Teck.
Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Denny Thomas and Leslie Adler