BHP Billiton: Growth potential apparent

BHP Billiton: Growth potential apparent

BHP Billiton: Growth potential apparent

Elliott also said it had seen a significant groundswell of dissatisfaction among BHP shareholders because of the company's chronic underperformance, and accused its board of not being open to suggestions and misleading in its response to the original proposals.

Elliott revised its approach somewhat, following regulatory concerns over the unification proposal, proposing that BHP stay incorporated, headquartered and tax resident in Australia, retaining full ASX and LSE listings, but still argued that unification will cost a considerably lower $0.2bn than the $1.3bn BHP states.

Mackenzie said: "Our path is deliberate, with value and returns at the centre of everything we do".

He said key contributors to value creation included further cost reductions which supported a 10 percent value uplift."We have achieved a great deal over the past year but we are not standing still", Mackenzie said.

During his presentation, Mackenzie said "all options" are on the table to draw value from USA shale acreage, though lower drilling costs were supporting returns in key focus areas.

A BHP spokeswoman declined to comment on Elliott's statement.

Mackenzie, who in the past worked for oil giant BP, has repeatedly said he doesn't think it's the right time to sell the U.S. petroleum assets, given oil prices are still relatively low.

Meanwhile, BHP Billiton announced that it was rebranding itself by changing its name back to just BHP from this week, but the rebranding would not immediately include plans to formally change its listed name.

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Speaking at the Barcelona conference, which is attended by bankers and investors, Mackenzie said BHP had made consistent progress and was confident it could grow the value of the company by up to 50 percent and nearly double the return on capital.

Recent notes from Deutsche Bank and Citi have agreed that BHP could free up billions of dollars by selling part or all of its petroleum business, although Citi said this would bring only a one-off benefit to shareholders and the company should focus on how to grow value for investors.

After the meeting, an Elliott spokesman said the meeting was private but constructive.

BHP has destroyed about $31 billion in value through its foray into USA shale and failed petroleum exploration as well as a further $9 billion in poorly timed share buybacks, Elliott said in a letter to the company's board.

BHP's top executive also answered questions during a webcast.

"The current period of shareholder activism could result in a break-up and/or a significant adjustment of the company's structure", Citi said in a note this week. BHP has rejected all of these proposals.

An example would be International Consolidated Airline Group, which resulted from the 2010 merger of British Airways and Iberia.

BHP has cut costs, invested in major growth projects, and has options to increase production capacity across its portfolio, Mr Mackenzie said.

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