June 5, 2017 / 4:52 AM / 2 years ago

BHP CEO says he has not met with Elliott since Barcelona

BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie speaks at a round table meeting with journalists in Tokyo, Japan June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - BHP Billiton Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said on Monday he has not met with activist hedge fund Elliott Management since their talks in Barcelona last month and declined to comment on whether another meeting was scheduled.

Elliott, a New York-based fund that has built up a 4.1 percent stake in BHP, is pushing a three-point plan to collapse the company’s dual-listed structure, spin off its oil and gas assets in the United States, and boost returns to shareholders - all of which BHP has rejected.

Speaking at a media roundtable in Tokyo, Mackenzie said BHP was reviewing some of its natural gas assets where it finds it “very hard to produce investment opportunities” but emphasized the review was a part of regular assessments of its business.

“In some cases we will seek and have sought and are seeking to divest ourselves of these positions and in other cases we will use hedging in order to justify an investment in production,” Mackenzie said, without being specific.

BHP announced in April it was putting its Fayetteville shale assets in Arkansas back up for sale and, in May, Mackenzie said the company was also looking to sell much of its Hawkville acreage in the Eagle Ford shale formation.

Mackenzie said he was “always interested in new ideas” on boosting shareholder value.

Elliot said last month after the meeting with Mackenzie in Barcelona that the talks had been “constructive”.

BHP’s oil business, including its shale drilling, is profitable with oil prices below $50 a barrel, Mackenzie said when asked.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil was trading at $48.21 a barrel at 0407 GMT on Monday. BHP shares on the Australian stock exchange were up about 1.8 percent.

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger

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