BHP says demerger preferred option

BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) (LON:BLT) —the world’s largest mining group formed by one of the industry’s landmark mergers— has pursued a strategy of rightsizing and simplifying its business for over a decade.

On Friday the company said following a board meeting this week a "demerger of a selection of assets" is the "preferred option".

The Melbourne-based company also restated its goal to make iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum the four pillars of the organization, "with potash as a potential fifth."

BHP's board expects to consider the demerger option when it reconvenes next week and could make an immediate announcement should "material decisions" be made.

BHP, listed on more than a dozen exchanges with a market value of $186 billion, could unload most its non-core units and create a new, listed company or sell those business off separately.

The unwanted assets make up most of the former Billiton, including the aluminum, manganese and nickel operations, which contribution to the group earnings has fallen from almost 30% at the time of the merger to about 10% today.

BHP is also expected to announce annual profits of more than $13.6 billion, up from $10.9 billion in the prior year on Tuesday, thanks to record iron ore production, it's number one earner ahead of petroleum and copper.