Activist Elliott Urges BHP To Split Off Petroleum Biz

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Our Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie looks forward to briefing shareholders today on our exciting plans for the future in his update on our roadmap to significantly grow long term shareholder value.

Speaking in Spain, Mr. Mackenzie said the company acknowledged that it had paid too much and mistimed its entry into the USA onshore shale sector but that it expects competitive returns from the operation.

Mr Mackenzie offered a mea culpa of sorts in relation to the $US20 billion spent buying U.S. shale assets in 2011 and the billions pumped into the business in the years since. Still, he said BHP is pivoting back to conventional oil and gas and is open to options for its shale assets.

"As we progress this project we continue to optimize the development path as to how we might add a mine to those shafts so we can reduce risk and unlock value", Mackenzie said.

Toronto Dominion Bank increased its stake in BHP Billiton Limited (NYSE:BHP) by 12.5% during the first quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr Mackenzie said there there no single natural owner for the disparate shale portfolio, which has assets in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, but rather multiple potential owners in different regions.

BHP Billiton plc (LON:BLT) is mulling a proposal by Elliott Management to overhaul its petroleum business after the activist investor stepped up pressure for a strategic review. Elliott said it believes a Sydney listing will enable the company to take greater advantage of tax benefits in Australia.

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A source close to BHP said the company expected to meet Elliott in Barcelona.

The rebranding comes at a sensitive time for the company, with US-based hedge fund Elliott Advisors, a significant shareholder, pushing for a restructure and arguing that as much as 50% more value in the stock could be unlocked.

Elliott said that estimate was "overstated", suggesting it would cost closer to $US200 million.

Despite that tough talk, Elliott has now clearly ceded ground on two of its initial proposals. In particular, they are seeking an independent review of the company's petroleum business.

Earlier this month, federal Treasurer Scott Morrison threatened court action to prevent Elliott's original plan for BHP to have a primary London listing and its shares still traded on the ASX through CHESS Depository Interests.

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