BHP shares hammered on demerger, profit miss

BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) outlined Tuesday plans to form a new global metals and mining company based around its aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel and silver assets.

The demerger process is expected to be completed in the first half of 2015. Current chief financial officer Graham Kerr was appointed to run the spinoff company with assets of roughly $15 billion from headquarters in Perth.

A surprise omission from the new entity is BHP's Nickel West based in Western Australia, with Mackenzie saying the company is in talks with several potential partners or buyers" for division.

Nickel assets in South Africa and Colombia, the South African coal division, Illawarra thermal coal mines in Australia and and the Cannington lead and silver mine located in Queensland will be included in the new company.

BHP's coal focus is now firmly placed on on the coking coal mines in Queensland's Bowen Basin although its Hunter Valley steam coal assets also remain within the group.

The unwanted assets make up most of the former Billiton which contribution to the group earnings has fallen from almost 30% at the time of the merger to about 14% today.

"With a simpler portfolio, we are targeting sustainable, productivity-led gains of at least $3.5 billion per annum by the end of the 2017 financial year," CEO Andrew Mackenzie said in a statement.

BHP has already hived off assets worth more than $5 billion since January 2012.

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

BHP also reported an 8% rise in second-half earnings bringing its full year underlying attributable profit to $13.4 billion.

That's a jump from last $10.9 billion in the prior year thanks to record iron ore production, it's number one earner ahead of petroleum and copper, but came in below consensus forecasts.

BHP's shares, listed on more than a dozen exchanges with a market value of $180 billion, were punished in London, dropping more than 4% on the news.

Interest in the announcement apparently was so great that the company's website crashed making access to official release impossible.