Global miner BHP Billiton Ltd/Plc has named veteran former Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Jac Nasser as its new chairman to succeed Don Argus, it said on Tuesday.

Argus will retire in early 2010.

Nasser joined the BHP Billiton board as a non-executive director in 2006 and is a member of the board's risk and audit committee.

The move by the board followed an 18-month selection process, BHP said.

Nasser, 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 as head of the global automotive business in 1996 and becoming CEO in 1999.

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.

(Reporting by Jonathan Standing and Eric Onstad; editing by John Stonestreet)