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Business News

Rio Tinto's Sam Walsh vows to focus on shareholder value

Rio Tinto's new chief executive, Sam Walsh, promised an "unrelenting" focus on shareholder value as he unveiled the FTSE 100 miner's first-ever full-year loss, of $3bn (£1.9bn).

Mr Walsh was promoted to the top job last month after $14.4bn of writedowns on ill-judged coal and aluminium acquisitions forced Tom Albanese to quit.

Despite the loss he began his term with a larger-than-expected 15 per cent rise in the dividend to $1.67 a share.

He also announced plans to generate annual savings of $5bn by next year through a cost-cutting drive that would see the group reducing its exploration and evaluation spending by $750m this year.

"Under my leadership, Rio Tinto will have an unrelenting focus on pursuing greater value for shareholders," Mr Walsh said. "To do this, we need to run the business as owners, not managers, and my immediate priority is to build more focus, discipline and accountability throughout the organisation."

Before his promotion Mr Walsh was the chief executive of the miner's key iron ore division. He replaced Mr Albanese after Rio was forced to take another major charge against its beleaguered aluminium division as well as a hit on its coal operation in Mozambique.