Global fund manager Aberdeen Standard Investments fully supports activist investor Elliott Management’s push for widespread structural changes at mining giant BHP Billiton (LON:BLT), Reuters has reported. Elliot has been urging the blue-chip miner to overhaul its business, including a demerger of the group’s US petroleum business.
BHP Billiton’s share price has been subdued in London in today’s session, having given up 0.59 percent to 1,358.50p as of 10:24 GMT, underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.18 percent higher at 7,386.09 points. The group’s shares have added just under eight percent to their value over the past year, and are up by some three percent in the year-to-date.
Aberdeen backs change at BHP
Aberdeen Asia managing director Hugh Young told Reuters yesterday that activist investor Elliott was ‘100 percent correct’ in pressuring for change. Aberdeen is the third-biggest shareholder in BHP’s London- listed stock, with a 4.88 percent stake, just behind Elliott, which has a 5.04 percent holding, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Young, however, said that the timing of future divestments was up to BHP, noting that “they should not necessarily succumb to short-term pressure to do something for the sake of doing something”.
Group looks to divest US shale
The comments came ahead of BHP’s Australian general meeting in Melbourne earlier today when the company said that it was hoping to fully divest its US onshore shale business in around two years, and signalled plans to also offload its nickel business in Australia.
“Nickel West is non-core, shale is non-core,” the group’s chairman Ken MacKenzie told reporters after the AGM, as quoted by Reuters. “We do consider we will see reasonable oil prices going forward, which is good for the businesses we retain and also the sales process.”