Canberra against BHP’s London switch, warns of charges
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