BHP’s $39 Billion Copper Play Was Years in the Making – by Thomas Biesheuvel, Dinesh Nair and Paul-Alain Hunt (Bloomberg News – April 27, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — When Mike Henry took over as chief executive officer of BHP Group in 2020, the world’s biggest mining company had lost its swagger. Bruised by a series of painful missteps and a run-in with activist Elliott Investment Management, the Anglo-Australian behemoth was kicking crucial decisions down the road, and increasingly aware that its reliance on fossil-fuel-heavy commodities could start turning investors away.

Detail-focused and exacting, Henry didn’t fit the stereotype of the hard-charging and charismatic mining executive that the industry so often turned to for its leaders. But he moved quickly and methodically, and within 20 months BHP had announced the most dramatic shakeup since its creation two decades earlier.

The company would sell off its oil and gas business and dismantle a dual listing structure that it had outgrown years earlier; it finally greenlit a giant potash mine in Henry’s native Canada after years of wavering.

BHP also started making a tentative return to acquisitions. The industry’s biggest player had spent years on the M&A sidelines, serving penitence for a series of disastrous takeover bids and deals.

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