May 3, 2017 / 11:09 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Finnish mining equipment maker Metso replaces CEO to spur growth

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(Adds chairman and CEO comments, background)

HELSINKI, May 3 (Reuters) - Finland's mining equipment maker Metso on Wednesday appointed Nico Delvaux as chief executive from Swedish rival Atlas Copco to lead growth plans after years of restructuring and weak demand.

Metso, the maker of grinding mills and crushers for miners as well as valves and pumps for the oil and gas industry, has been battling tough market conditions due to spending cuts by miners and uncertainty over growth in top metals consumer China.

"The market just didn't exist, it disappeared for the past six years. Now, with Metso having a very strong balance sheet, we really want to see growth, going from cost cutting and restructuring to growing our business," Chairman Mikael Lilius told a news conference.

The company has cut hundreds of jobs in recent years. In 2014, it spun off its pulp and paper machine business Valmet and the government, its biggest shareholder, also rejected a takeover bid by British engineering firm Weir Group .

Delvaux, head of Atlas Copco's compressor technique business, is due to start as CEO in November at the latest, replacing Matti Kahkonen, the CEO since 2011 and a long-time executive who is due to advise the board until he retires.

Delvaux, who Lilius said was picked for his experience in the service business, did not specify his plans for Metso yet.

"I'm not a mining expert ... but I definitely have lots of experience with customers of Metso," Delvaux said.

Metso last month reported a rise of 11 percent in quarterly core profit, beating market expectations, and said it saw a gradual recovery in the mining market. (Reporting by Tuomas Forsell and Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Edmund Blair)

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