When Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold’s revenues fell by half within weeks in late 2008, it was do or die. To preserve liquidity, the company slashed its workforce and capital spending and eliminated its dividend. It still saw cash fall to less than $1 billion. Since then, the mining company has reinstated its dividend, now larger than it was prior to the financial crisis, rehired most of its workforce and grown its cash to nearly $5 billion. Freeport also ramped up operations idled during the downturn and set in motion a $6 billion investment plan to increase its copper production 25% over the next few years.
Kathleen Quirk, who was appointed CFO in 2003 and retained the position through the company’s 2007 merger with Phelps Dodge, discusses how the financial crisis affected the company’s approach to decision making.