Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Elliott Management says Barcelona meeting with BHP CEO was "constructive"

Reuters Reuters
Kelvin Reese | 29 May, 2017, 12:06

It ratcheted up the pressure on BHP management on Tuesday, sending a letter to the board calling on the world's biggest mining company to conduct an independent review of its oil unit.

"Our path is deliberate, with value and returns at the centre of everything we do", Mackenzie said in a copy of his speech.

"At this conference one year ago, I outlined ambitious plans to improve returns and grow the value of BHP", he said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Metals, Mining & Steel Conference.

In a subsequent letter and accompanying presentation provided to BHP today, Elliott reveals extremely broad and deep-rooted shareholder support for proactive steps to be taken by BHP management to review its petroleum business. Divesting the assets would provide "additional capital to focus on the higher returning conventional assets and minerals portfolio", the analysts said.

BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie came face to face with representatives of Elliott Associates in Barcelona late on Wednesday, in a meeting the activist investor described as "constructive".

Elliott, which has built up a 4.1 percent stake in BHP's London-listed arm and is urging changes to boost shareholder value, said there were clear signs the market was receptive to a new strategy for BHP.

"We are confident that continued delivery of these plans, from our stronger base today, could grow the value of our company by up to 50 per cent and nearly double the return on capital", he said.

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BHP had dismissed Elliott's previous proposal, saying the plan had major flaws and would not benefit shareholders.

It instead said BHP's management should work harder to find a solution to the legacy structure, which it said is obsolete and creates a long-running mismatch between the two shares.

Mackenzie said offshore US successes, as well as pioneering programs in South America, are driving growth for the company's petroleum portfolio.

Its share price has fallen since Elliott launched its attack in April and the London stock is down almost 9 percent since the start of the year.

After the meeting, an Elliott spokesman said the meeting was private but constructive. By 0730 GMT on Tuesday, BHP was down 0.2 percent.

He said BHP now has major growth projects valued at up to US$25bn, offering potential average returns of more than 16% at consensus prices.


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