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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hedge fund manager Elliott Advisors said on Monday it had sent a letter to BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) directors outlining a plan to unlock value by scrapping the mining giant's dual-corporate structure, demerging its oil business and rejigging its capital return policy.
"The goal is to provide details of the BHP shareholder value unlock plan to all of BHP's shareholders so that BHP can engage openly with all parties on the plan," Elliott said in a statement.
BHP did not immediately provide comment on the matter when contacted by Reuters.
Elliott said it holds a "long economic interest" of about 4.1 percent of the issued shares in London-listed BHP Billiton PLC.
That stake is worth $3.81 billion (£3.1 billion), Reuters calculations showed based on Friday's closing price.
Elliott also said it holds rights with its affiliates to acquire up to 0.4 percent of the issued shares in Sydney-listed BHP Billiton Ltd, worth about $372 million.
Its letter, dated April 10 and released by Elliott online, did not mention any BHP directors by name.
Started in 1977, Elliott manages assets worth more than $32.7 billion, according to the company.
Its investors include pension plans, sovereign wealth funds and hospitals, among others, it said.
Elliott, an activist investor, also has a 3.25 percent stake in Akzo Nobel NV (AKZO.AS). It is encouraging the Dutch paints and chemicals group to enter talks with spurned U.S. suitor PPG Industries Inc (PPG.N).
Elliott said its plan could increase shareholder value by up to 48.6 percent for holders of BHP's Sydney shares and 51 percent for London shareholders.
It also proposed spinning off BHP's U.S. oil and petroleum arm into a separate listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
It estimated the value of BHP's U.S. petroleum business at around $22 billion.
BHP's Australian shares closed 4.64 percent higher at A$25.73, with most of the gains coming near the end of trade.
BHP Billiton was created in 2001 through the merger of the Australian Broken Hill Proprietary Co and the Anglo–Dutch Billiton PLC.
The Australia-registered arm is one of the largest companies in Australia measured by market value. The Britain-registered arm has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is part of the benchmark FTSE 100 Index.
(Corrects headline and first paragraph to show proposal is to scrap dual-corporate structure, not dual-listing.)
Reporting by James Regan and Jamie Freed; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing