Ken MacKenzie
Ken MacKenzie, 53, joined BHP Billiton's board in September last year Reuters

Mining giant BHP Billiton has appointed a former chief executive of an Australian packaging company Amcor as its new chairman.

Ken MacKenzie will take up the job on 1 September, when current chairman Jac Nasser retires from the board.

As chief executive of Amcor, MacKenzie was credited for being the driving force behind a successful turnaround at the packaging firm, with the firm's share price more than doubling over the course of his 10-year tenure.

He joins BHP at a time when activist investors, led by US-based hedge fund Elliott Management, are pressing for an overhaul of the mining giant's board and demanding an exit from US oil and shale businesses.

BHP shares were trading 0.5% higher in Sydney following the announcement.

MacKenzie said: "It is an honour and a privilege to succeed Jac Nasser as Chairman of BHP.

"As incoming chairman, I look forward to engaging with shareholders and other stakeholders over the coming weeks to understand their perspectives.

"I am committed to the creation of long-term value for all of our shareholders and will work tirelessly with the board and management to achieve this."

BHP made a net profit of $3.2bn (£2.5bn) for the six months to the end of December 2016 on the back of a recovery in global commodity prices.

The world's largest miner had posted a loss of $5.7bn in the preceding half-year period because of one-off charges and lower commodity prices.

Its earnings in 2016 were also negatively affected by the collapse of a dam it partly owns in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in November 2015.

Shriti Vadera, senior independent director at BHP, said: "Ken MacKenzie brings extensive global executive experience and a strategic approach.

"He has a proven track record of delivering value for shareholders. He has the operational and financial capabilities as well as the rigour necessary to effectively oversee BHP's capital allocation framework."