In Brief

BHP: London’s lost bauble

Anglo-Australian mining giant is shifting its primary stock-listing to Sydney 

Bad news for the FTSE 100, said Neil Hume in the Financial Times. The UK blue-chip index “is set to lose its biggest company”. The £137bn Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP is ditching its “dual-corporate structure”, which currently sees it listed as two separate companies on the London and Sydney stock exchanges, and shifting its “primary stock-listing to Australia”. 

The move marks “the most radical overhaul” to BHP’s business since it was formed in a merger two decades ago, said August Graham on PA Media. Some investors, notably the activist New York-based hedge fund Elliott Advisors, have been pushing for this “for years”, as a means of unlocking billions in value. 

Yet BHP’s already in the money, said Hume in the FT. This year’s commodities boom has delivered soaring profits of US$24.6bn, enabling it to deliver “a record final dividend” of $10.1bn. Moreover, CEO Mike Henry is making good progress shifting focus towards in-demand metals like copper and nickel, and “green commodities” – this week confirming a plan to merge BHP’s oil and gas business with Australia’s Woodside. 

The shift Down Under could yet hit a pothole. In 2018, the Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever dropped a comparable “unification” scheme involving relocation to Rotterdam, following pressure from London shareholders. A similar rebellion may now be fermenting over BHP. “For UK investors this sucks,” complained one investor. “This is a fantastic company.”

 

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