Can­berra against BHP’s Lon­don switch, warns of charges

New Straits Times - - Business -

SYD­NEY: A United States hedge fund plan for min­ing gi­ant BHP Bil­li­ton to move its pri­mary list­ing to Lon­don was shot down by the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day, which warned of crim­i­nal charges if it went ahead.

El­liott Ad­vi­sors, a sig­nif­i­cant share­holder in the firm, is push­ing for BHP to re­struc­ture the busi­ness, ar­gu­ing it could un­lock as much as 50 per cent more value in the stock.

It wants to dis­solve the firm’s costly dual-listed struc­ture, with its as­sets trans­ferred to a new com­pany to be in­cor­po­rated and listed in Bri­tain.

BHP bosses last month re­jected the pro­posal, but Aus­tralian me­dia re­ports said rep­re­sen­ta­tives from El­liott, run by bil­lion­aire Paul Singer, were here and Mel­bourne this week to keep up the pres­sure.

Trea­surer Scott Mor­ri­son said re­mov­ing BHP from the Aus­tralian Stock Ex­change was not in the na­tional in­ter­est.

“The firm plays an im­por­tant role in the Aus­tralian econ­omy.”

He said if BHP chose to fol­low the El­liott pro­posal it would be con­trary to the con­di­tions im­posed in 2001 and “it may com­mit a crim­i­nal of­fence and could be sub­ject to civil penal­ties un­der the For­eign Ac­qui­si­tions and Takeovers Act”.

“If the com­pany is con­victed of an of­fence, the di­rec­tors could be held per­son­ally li­able.” AFP

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