BHP Billiton’s stalker Elliott lands in Australia – by John Kehoe (Australian Financial Review – May 2, 2017)

Elliott Management executives have jetted to Australia to lobby BHP Billiton shareholders on the activist hedge fund’s campaign for the miner to shake up its business structure and return billions of dollars more in cash to shareholders.

Elliott’s investment director from Hong Kong, James Smith, arrived in Sydney on Monday to begin the charm offensive with Australian owners of the dual-listed miner. He will travel to BHP’s home city of Melbourne later this week to speak with shareholders about the hedge fund’s proposals, a source close to the New York headquartered firm said.

Mr Smith – an Englishman who splits his time between Hong Kong and London – was offering shareholders any clarity being sought on Elliott’s three main proposals for BHP and “listening for feedback”, the person said.

Elliott is demanding BHP ditch its UK-Australia dual-listing by downgrading the local listing, demerge the underperforming US petroleum business and increase share buybacks, under a strategy to unlock a claimed $US46 billion in value and deliver a 48.6 per cent increase in returns.

To have any hope of gaining traction, the $US32.7 billion hedge fund firm would need to successfully court other large institutional shareholders to apply pressure to BHP.  Elliott declined to say which shareholders in Australia it was meeting.

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