The City was braced for what could be a huge new mining flotation as it emerged that BHP Billiton is considering splitting off $19 billion of non-core operation mines and turning them into a separately quoted company.
While it has already sold $6.5 billion (£3.9 billion) of mining assets in the past two years, a far bolder plan is reportedly being discussed with the company’s adviser, Goldman Sachs.
Codenamed “Project River”, the Goldman-led team, who would make millions of dollars from a sale, is considering spinning off BHP’s aluminium, nickel and bauxite assets in a demerger to create a new $19 billion company that could be listed separately on the London Stock Exchange, as well as the Australian and South African markets.
BHP pointedly did not deny the reports in an announcement to the stock market today, leading analysts to give credence to them, although the company is also considering a mere continuation of its programme to sell its non-core operations on a mine-by-mine basis.
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