Article courtesy of Western Australia Today by Samantha Hutchinson and Kylar Loussikian
Rio Tinto’s efforts at keeping open a local headquarters — alongside the London office which chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques calls home — is admirable.
But how admirable is in dispute, after we learnt the mining giant’s Melbourne HQ staff count would struggle to get past single digits once the janitor and receptionists are accounted for.
Not even 20 people in the headquarters of a $38 billion locally-listed corporation?
Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn could only dream of such efficiency.
And what a change in just five years, when mining mogul Gina Rinehart declared the company should use Sam Walsh’s elevation to chief executive to ditch London altogether.
It was two years ago that Rio shifted its Melbourne office away from its more salubrious perch at 120 Collins Street, where it had as many as 240 staff, down the road to 360 Collins (certainly well-clear of the Paris End).
Now Jacques is our man in London, other family members are ensconced in Sydney, and Rio is moving workers to Perth, Brisbane, Singapore and Montreal.
Those on the ground in Singapore reckon there could be as many as 450 staff in its Marina Bay complex, which houses the company’s treasury and a marketing hub, alongside other functions.
Presumably Rio’s brains trust would have canvassed the idea of scaling back even further in Melbourne – PO Box, perhaps?. Whether Melbourne’s mining establishment would stomach the departure of one of the country’s greatest success stories is an entirely different matter.
Former Treasurer Peter Costello has made no bones about his belief that Rio and BHP need to keep head office flags in the ground in Australia. More quietly, we reckon he’d be even more specific to stipulate in Melbourne.
Of course, should Rio Jacques ever feel like shifting the whole Melbourne HQ north to the Spray Tan Capital, we’re certain there’s a suitable shopfront that would accommodate them all.