Global miner BHP Billiton is considering a secondary listing in London for shares in its planned new company after requests from some UK-based investors.
In August, BHP said it would spin off some aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel and silver assets worth an estimated $16-billion into a new company headquartered in Perth and listed in Australia, with a secondary listing in South Africa.
Shareholders in BHP Billiton Ltd and BHP Billiton Plc would receive shares in the new company, which is yet to be named, on a pro-rata basis. Some UK-registered shareholders had expressed concerns about the lack of a London listing.
Some funds based in the United Kingdom do not have a mandate to hold shares in companies listed abroad and would have to sell shares in the new company, if it is not listed in London.
This could have put immediate pressure on its share price.
“Since the announcement, we have been able to engage extensively with investors and other stakeholders,” BHP said in a letter to shareholders. “Based on this, we are now assessing a potential standard listing in London for the new company.”
Malcolm McPartlin, investment manager at UK-based fund Kames Capital, said he liked the BHP announcement.
“UK plc shareholders have been pushing for this, we’re glad the company has been listening. Listing in the UK allows us to hold the stock, which we would have otherwise been forced to sell,” he said.
Aberdeen Asset Management senior investment manager Ben Ritchie also said he welcomed the BHP statement.
“In an ideal world there would be a London listing. It gives investors in the UK a lot more flexibility,” he said.
Industry sources said BHP had not pushed ahead with a London listing due to tax issues and because the new company would be unlikely to qualify as part of the UK FTSE index. However, given the level of interest from shareholders, BHP decided to reconsider the decision, they said.
“We would always prefer a premium listing but any kind of listing makes life easier for UK investors,” said a third shareholder who declined to be named.
After the spin off, BHP Billiton will focus on four main areas: iron-ore, copper, coal and petroleum, with potash as a potential fifth sector, the company has said.
Shares in BHP Billiton closed 3.2% higher, outperforming a 2.3% rise in the UK mining sector.(edited by: Reuters)
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