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

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In response, Mackenzie said the firm would review the plans and respond, but rejected suggestions BHP was misleading investors and that it wasn't open to suggestions.

Elliott is now calling for an in-depth, open and timely independent review of the petroleum business - with full disclosure of the review results.

Activist investor Elliott Management on Thursday said a meeting with BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie in Barcelona had been "constructive".

"Since that time, we have made consistent progress and we are confident that continued delivery of these plans, from our stronger base today, could grow the value of our company by up to 5% and nearly double the return on capital".

He said BHP's petroleum exploration programme had a value of more than $20 billion and close to a quarter of this was in low-to-medium risk prospects to be tested in the next two years.

This is the story many in the business media and the investment industry won't tell you - but that attack on BHP from a United States hedge fund and private equity group has collapsed as it has been forced to significantly recast its ideas.

Mackenzie, who in the past worked for oil giant BP, has repeatedly said he doesn't think it's the right time to sell the USA petroleum assets, given oil prices are still relatively low.

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Miner BHP Billiton has announced it will drop the name "Billiton" in a rebranding exercise to build its standing as a major Australian company rather than a multinational.

The fund manager today also took aim at BHP's use of a Singapore marketing subsidiary to try to reduce tax liabilities in Australia, commonly known as a Singapore tax sling.

Sources said Elliott boss Paul Singer was not present in the meeting, but several members of his Hong Kong-based team were in attendance.

"The current period of shareholder activism could result in a break-up and/or a significant adjustment of the company's structure", Citi said in a note this week.

Elliott said it has spent the past month seeking feedback on its initial proposals from Australian and global investors, holding BHP shares worth tens of billions of US$. IAG has its primary listing in Spain but also trades in London and remains part of the benchmark FTSE 100 index. Instead of taking offence, BHP could accept Elliott's challenge, invite bidders for its oil business, and know that it is doing so from a position of strength.

Elliott reiterated that the stock has consistently underperformed, blaming what it called value-destroying moves including the about $23 billion foray into the US onshore oil and gas sector, $8 billion spent on petroleum exploration with no apparent value created and about $9 billion "destroyed" in share buybacks at inflated prices. By 0730 GMT on Tuesday, BHP was down 0.2 percent. Mackenzie said technology programs to improve safety, lower costs and unlock resource with an unrisked value of up to U.S. $12 billion were among the most capital efficient options in the portfolio.

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