SYDNEY (Reuters) - Activist investor Elliott Management on Thursday said a meeting with BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie in Barcelona had been “constructive”.
The meeting on Wednesday took place a day after the New York-based fund raised the pressure for strategic changes at the mining giant, including a call for an independent review of its petroleum division.
Elliott spokesman Michael O‘Looney said the fund, which controls 4.1 percent of the miner’s London-listed shares, had a private meeting with Mackenzie.
“We found it was constructive,” he said, declining to provide further details. It was the first time BHP had met with Elliott since the fund went public with a $46 billion overhaul proposal on April 10.
A BHP spokeswoman declined to comment on Elliott’s statement.
Ross Barker, managing director of the Australian Foundation Investment Company, a top 10 holder of BHP’s Australian shares, said it was appropriate that the company was meeting with Elliott to show it was listening to shareholder concerns.
However, he said he was not convinced by Elliott’s argument that now was the right time for BHP to divest petroleum assets.
“So far I think (BHP) make a convincing case to let them extract value as they have in other parts of the business,” he said.
“To shorten that by going straight to the market now wouldn’t necessarily be obviously the best course unless there was clearly a buyer that wanted to pay a lot more than the value that BHP think they can extract.”
Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Richard Pullin