BHP Billiton CEO Sets Sights on Possible Copper, Petroleum Acquisitions – by Rhiannon Hoyle (Wall Street Journal – March 16, 2016)

MELBOURNE, Australia— BHP Billiton Ltd. Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie has spent three years tackling the legacy of his predecessors’ hunger for major deals, selling unwanted assets and taking multibillion-dollar write-downs on its U.S. shale gas operations.

Now, he says the world’s biggest mining company by market capitalization has an appetite for acquisitions again.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Mackenzie said BHP is sizing up deals for petroleum and copper assets that could offer an immediate boost to profits amid what it now expects to be a prolonged period of low commodity prices.

“We are very active in looking at areas where we might acquire assets that would fit very well within our portfolio and that would increase the scale of the company without increasing its complexity,” Mr. Mackenzie said.

The BHP boss was speaking after a difficult period for the company as it adapts to a plunge in prices for the main commodities it sells, including iron ore, oil and gas, and coal.

Some analysts have warned BHP could be tempted to overpay for assets, while others question whether there will be willing sellers of the sort of high-quality assets BHP has historically been keen to buy.

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