BHP Billiton sinks to $5.67bn loss


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Mining giant BHP Billiton has posted a huge half-year net loss of $5.67bn (£4bn) and warned that weak commodity prices will continue.

The figure for the six months to December compared with a profit of $5.35bn for the same period in 2014.

Lower commodity prices slashed revenue by 37% to $15.7bn, sending underlying profit down 92% to $412m.

BHP, one of the world’s biggest mining companies, took the axe to the interim dividend.

It has abandoned its long-held policy of maintaining or increasing dividend payments to shareholders, reducing the payout from 62 cents a share to just 16 cents.

Chairman Jac Nasser said BHP now believed the period of weaker prices and higher volatility would be prolonged.

The decision to cut the dividend had not been made lightly but was a “determined response to changing markets”, he said.

The company remained “strongly committed to returning cash to our shareholders”, Mr Nasser added.

Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said: “With improved financial flexibility and a portfolio of high-return growth options, we are well positioned to grow.”

Shares in BHP Billiton fell 0.5% to $17.10 in early trading in Sydney.

Mining companies such as BHP have been under intense pressure as a slowdown in China’s economy results in lower demand for key commodities, such as iron ore and coal.

BHP also revealed a new operating model with fewer layers that aimed to create a more agile company.

Samarco disaster

The changes will result in Jimmy Wilson, head of the iron ore division, departing, along with Tim Cutt, head of petroleum operations.

Following the November collapse of a dam at the BHP-owned Samarco mine in Brazil that killed at least 17 people, Mr Mackenzie said: “Supporting the response efforts, rebuilding communities and restoring the environment impacted by the dam failure remains a priority and substantial progress has been made.”

Dean Dalla Valle has been assigned to lead BHP’s response to the incident and will be based in Brazil. The executive will retain responsibility for the Jansen Potash project in Canada.

Online Source

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia

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