BHP's South32 spinoff to cost $738m

BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) plans to give its shareholders one share in the spin-off company called South32 for every BHP share owned and will put the demerger proposal to a shareholder vote on May 6.

The demerger will see BHP, the world's largest mining company, transform from a giant with interests in 41 assets across 13 countries and six continents to "a core portfolio of 19 assets across eight countries and three continents.”

Melbourne-based BHP said South32 intends to distribute at least 40% of its underlying earnings as dividends and won't rebase its own dividend policy if the deal goes through, meaning higher cash payouts all around.

But the proposal does come with fees – the whole spin-off process will result in a once-off cost of around $738 million before tax. Savings for BHP by simplifying its portfolio would be fairly modest at around $100m a year with most of that achieved by end of 2017.

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