BHP Billiton eyes Shell deal to buy Australian energy firm

BHP Billiton is plotting a £30bn takeover of Australian energy firm Woodside Petroleum, in a strategic switch into oil and gas by the world’s largest miner.

The Anglo-Australian firm is said to be in talks with Royal Dutch Shell, Woodside’s largest shareholder, over a deal to buy its stake to mount a takeover challenge.

Led by chief executive Marius Kloppers and chairman Jac Nasser, BHP has failed in three takeover approaches in recent years.

A $39bn (£23.8bn) bid for Canadian miner Potash was blocked by the country’s authorities last year on grounds of national interest.

Any deal to buy Woodside outright could again draw fire from rulemakers, despite BHP being considered a native business in Australia. Its listing in both Sydney and London could lead to an investigation by the foreign investment regulator.

Analysts had dismissed speculation that BHP would look to buy the energy firm, given the high premium Woodside’s shareholders would demand.