Elliott to court BHP’s Australian shareholders on overhaul say sources

PUBLISHED: Tue, 02 May 2017 08:13:42 GMT

Jamie Freed and James Regan | SYDNEY

Elliott Management will meet with BHP Billiton’s Australian shareholders this week as the activist investor pushes for strategic changes at the world’s biggest miner, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The sources, who could not be named because they were not authorised to speak publicly about the issue, told Reuters that Elliott was seeking feedback from other investors about its proposed overhaul of BHP.

Elliott’s U.S. office did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

Over the past year, Elliott has built up a 4.1 percent stake in BHP’s British arm and last month told the company it had failed to deliver “optimal” value.

Elliott, led by U.S. financier Paul Singer, demanded BHP spin off its U.S. oil assets, ditch a corporate structure built on dual listings in London and Sydney and hand back more money to shareholders.

BHP swiftly rejected the approach, saying the costs of the changes would outweigh the benefits.

But Elliott could be gaining some traction according to investors.

Analysts said Elliott would likely push its case for a revamp of BHP’s U.S. oil business, after BHP on April 26 said it was progressing the sale of onshore U.S. petroleum interests at two key fields.

BHP said the plan had been in the works prior to Elliott going public with its proposals.

“It’s clear they (Elliott) aren’t going to just give up,” said Shaw and Partners analyst Peter O’Connor.

I’m not surprised they are here, they have been conspicuous in their absence,” he added.

BHP declined to comment.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed and James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)

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