Elliott Management wants in-depth, open, truly independent review of BHP’s U.S. shale oil business

This is indicative that the money fuelling dirty fossil fuels will be better utilised elsewhere. This could also give rise to a slew of lawsuits that oil companies have been misleading shareholders on the impact of their business on global warming and climate change.

In a significant development, Elliott Management has raised its stake in BHP Billiton to 5% and has stepped up a campaign to make the top global miner quit all if not some parts of its petroleum business, ditch its attempt at dual listing and boost investor’s returns.

This effort started in April this year, at which point it held a 4.1% stake which it described as an “economic interest” in BHP’s UK-listed shares. Later it increased its stake to 4.5%.

On Wednesday, Elliott stated it now has a 5% stake in BHP’s UK-listed shares. It also has has a small economic interest in BHP’s Australian shares.

“Recent statements by the company give us confidence that Chairman-elect Ken MacKenzie will heed shareholders’ calls to take constructive steps to enhance value for BHP and its owners,” said Elliott in a statement.

These steps include BHP exiting its U.S. shale business “and an in-depth, open and truly independent review of the petroleum business’ place in BHP’s portfolio,” said Elliott.

“We and other shareholders look forward to hearing more from management on this subject, following the growing analyst and shareholder consensus that BHP should exit U.S. shale,” said Elliott.

Upto now, BHP had rejected Elliott’s proposals as flawed. With the hedge fund increasing its stake to 5%, it declined to comment on Elliott’s statement.

It has however acknowledged that it paid far too much when it entered the shale business; in the long run it will look to exit it when the time is right.

MacKenzie has been canvassing shareholders worldwide ahead of assuming his position as chairman in the company which he is scheduled to take up on September 1.

Rohan Walsh , an investment manager at Melbourne-based Karara Capital ascribed these moves by Elliott Management as having increased confidence in the company’s direction.

“They are showing conviction in the prospects of the business,” said Walsh.

Last month, Elliott had stated it had deep concerns over BHP’s proposal to enter the fertilizer market, which likes the global oil pool, is oversupplied.

BHP is scheduled to report its full year financial results next week.

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