BHP shareholders see room for one more sweetened Anglo bid

Credit: BHP

Shareholders in BHP Group Ltd. and takeover target Anglo American Plc expect the world’s largest miner to come back with a third and improved proposal before a regulatory deadline next week, even after the smaller company laid out a bold restructuring plan of its own on Tuesday.

Anglo has twice rejected all-share approaches from BHP that would require it to spin off listed South African businesses, arguing the proposal created “significant uncertainty” for shareholders. Instead, to counter the latest $43 billion move, it has said it will itself exit diamonds, platinum and coal, turning into a miner focused on copper and iron ore — crown jewels for the group.

BHP has said it will remain disciplined in its pursuit and the market is signaling at least some investors remain skeptical, with Anglo American shares trading around £26.40 in the London morning — well below the latest bid, equivalent to £27.53 per share.

Yet shareholders in both companies interviewed by Bloomberg, some of whom declined to be named as they are not authorized to speak to the media, said there was still likely to be some room for a sweetened offer before a May 22 cut-off.

“I reckon they’ll go back to Anglo and say – look, we’re going to come back with 5% more,” said Daniel Sullivan, head of global natural resources at Janus Henderson, which holds both BHP and Anglo stock. “That’ll be it, and we’re going to take it straight to the shareholders. And the shareholders will rush at it faster than you’ve ever seen.”

In remarks to a mining conference this week, BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry argued shareholders should now determine which of the two teams had a better chance of delivering the overhaul, signaling he would not yet cede.

Anglo’s decision not to hold discussions with BHP seemed “super aggressive,” Sullivan said, as the company raised concerns about carve-outs of its South African platinum and iron ore businesses but then chose to at least partly pursue a similarly complex strategy itself.

“I’m quite surprised that Anglo’s decided to blow up the company, rather than engage,” Sullivan said. “They’re probably scaring their own shareholders a bit by now. Those statements and decisions look quite erratic. And that’s not a good thing for anybody.”

(By Sybilla Gross)


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