Former Ford CEO Jac Nasser is joining global mining group BHP Billiton as its new chairman.

Nasser joined the minier’s board as a non-executive director in 2006 and is a member of the risk and audit committee, Reuters reported.

Lebanese-born Nasser, now 61, was born in Lebanon and migrated to Australia at the age of four. He began his 33-year career with Ford in Australia before being named head of the global automotive business in 1996 and becoming CEO in 1999. His move to diversify Ford away from its core automaking business drew criticism and businesses such as the aftermarket group Kwik-Fit acquired on his watch have since been sold.

The Premium Automotive Group (PAG), grown under Nasser to group premium brands such as Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Lincoln under one roof in California, has also since been dissolved and all but Volvo and Lincoln sold off, and relocated back east.

“During his tenure as CEO, Ford became the world’s most profitable volume carmaker and pioneered the global product development business model for the industry,” BHP said.

Current chairman Bill Ford sacked Nasser in October 2001 after he led the company to a US$5.45bn loss in 2001.