Andrew Forrest nimmt es mit dem eigenen Konzern und dem Klimawandel auf

Zwischen Feier und Katzenjammer lagen nur ein paar Stunden. Noch finden die Chaostage beim drittgrößten australischen Erzkonzern Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) mit seiner wachsenden Klimasparte Fortescue Energy (FE) kein Ende. Sie passen zu einem ersten Halbjahr, in dem Gründermilliardär Andrew Forrest augenscheinlich in seinem Leben und seinen Unternehmen mit der Axt aufräumte. Dabei herrscht in der Investorengemeinde noch Unklarheit über die Folgen der Trennung von seiner langjährigen Ehefrau Nicola Forrest – denn ihr fällt die Mehrheit der Anteile am erst von 2003 an geschaffenen Imperium des bislang reichsten Australiers zu. Offen ist auch, welche Auswirkungen der Kurs auf Forrests Partner in Deutschland hat, den Energiekonzern Eon und die Deutsche Bahn .

Christoph Hein

Wirtschaftskorrespondent für Südasien/Pazifik mit Sitz in Singapur.

At the beginning of the millennium, the former stock trader from Perth, Western Australia, initially experienced a bitter failure with Anaconda Nickel. He pulled himself together, founded the mining conglomerate FMG, and benefited from China’s demand. Gossip about Forrest’s volatile nature, unpaid bills, and his treatment of employees circulated in Perth. However, this was overshadowed by a legendary success story: wealth, a growing commitment against climate change, which he now interprets as an impending apocalypse, a reliable family, the establishment of a global foundation for the environment and human rights, as well as the acquisition of numerous Australian heritage brands distinguished him.

In the Australian winter, there was then the shocking news of the separation of the Forrest couple at the top. Last week, on the 20th anniversary of FMG, business partner Nicola sent warm greetings via video – while her ex-husband celebrated on the edge of a huge truck with hundreds of guests flown into a mine in the Pilbara. However, hours later, bombs exploded: on Monday morning after the celebration, Fiona Hick, the young CEO of FMG who had only been in office for six months, left the company – of course, in good agreement. Forrest appointed Dino Otranto, the current COO who has not yet made a significant impact, as his successor.

Many top talents are leaving the company.

Es dauerte 48 Stunden, bis Hicks bisherige Finanzchefin Christine Morris nach nur drei Monaten im Amt ihrem Weg folgen musste. Und am Ende der Woche zog sich auch noch der als früherer Notenbanker auf dem fünften Kontinent bestens vernetzte Guy Debelle aus dem Führungsgremium von Fortescue Future Industries zurück , dem Kern von FE. Schon zuvor hatten zahlreiche Spitzenkräfte das Handtuch geworfen. Auch weil Forrest ihnen den mit den Preisen für Eisenerz durch die Decke gegangenen Bonus zusammengestrichen hatte.

Since then, Forrest has been acting as his own firefighter. It seems to be burning brightly: Investors are publicly expressing their lack of trust in him and his actions. Just a few months ago, Forrest had a falling out with billionaire colleague Mike Cannon-Brookes because they could no longer agree on the future project of a solar power transmission line from Northern Australia to Singapore.

Forrest presented a serious presentation about the impending apocalypse through the Australian stock exchange: This was the moment when investors not only feared that the founder had lost control of his own empire. But also the billions he extracts from the Australian soil with FMG, he burns again with FE and his climate commitment.

Führungskräfte müssen zur Fortescue-Kultur passen

Forrest has a completely different perspective: In a letter to his employees on Monday, he emphasizes the need to quickly rectify mistakes. It is like removing a band-aid, which also needs to be done in one swift motion. „Now I see the company being led by people who are experienced in the Fortescue culture. They are marching in the same direction. I am greatly relieved. Because we have a team of insiders, not outsiders, who will propel us forward thanks to our own values.“ He did not explain why he elevated „outsider“ Hick, an experienced natural resource manager, to the top position just a few months ago.

Forrest has indeed abandoned the original goal of allocating one-tenth of the surplus from the mining business to the development of FE; however, investors have been concerned since his radical statement on climate change in Perth that the founder is increasingly diverting their money for his personal goals. On stage, Forrest, who obtained a doctorate in marine biology later in life, warned, „Deadly moisture will be the next pandemic. With every degree Celsius that the temperature rises, moisture on Earth increases by 7 percent.“ This would cause overheating in all living beings. And he continued, „There will be no cure this time. Healthcare systems will collapse.“

Under the logo of the mining company Fortescue, the founder warns: „Next, there will be mass exodus, a struggle for survival, and the collapse of borders.“ Then, the billionaire calls for a „green ceasefire“ from the international community, which should be established at the G20 conferences in India starting at the end of the week and at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) by world leaders.

The mining industry aims to become climate-neutral by 2030.

The two business sectors generated a net profit of $5.5 billion in the past fiscal year (June 30). Otranto faces the daunting task of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the mining business by 2030. Analysts agree that the energy sector of the company needs to be cross-financed with billions from the ore surplus – something shareholders detest.

The mining business generated nearly $17 billion in revenue in the past fiscal year, while the energy division only reached $107 million. Due to this and the leadership turmoil in recent weeks, major investors are demanding that founder Forrest step back from his own business. However, the opposite will happen. According to Australia’s richest person, and there is little reason to doubt it, he is just at the beginning of a major transformation, and this is for the protection of the world.