BHP Billiton stands firm on Potash bid

Marion Dakers
INDUSTRIAL giant BHP Billiton posted bumper profits in nearly all areas of its business yesterday, as chief executive Marius Kloppers remained confident over the firm’s $40bn (£25.9m) offer for Canadian fertiliser group Potash.

“I have heard all the speculation, but I have only seen one bid on the table. Given the all-cash nature of what have offered, it doesn’t seem like there is an enormous universe of potential interlopers here,” Kloppers said yesterday.

He said the world’s biggest miner will remain disciplined with its all-cash hostile offer, and will not increase the bid if it risks the firm’s A+ credit rating. Kloppers and four teams from BHP will this week begin a charm offensive on all its shareholders to convince them of the takeover’s value.

Kloppers said around 50 per cent of BHP shareholders in the USA also hold stakes in
Potash. “More information is always a good thing,” he added.

The company identified potash fertiliser as a candidate for expansion as early as 2005, said Kloppers, along with investing in platinum.

BHP Billiton posted a 65 per cent rise in operational profit to $20bn yesterday, on the back of a 5.2 per cent rise in revenue to $52.8bn.

Earnings per share more than doubled to 228.6 cents.

Six of the firm’s nine areas of operation posted growth, with some of the biggest jumps due to rising commodities prices.

Shares fell two per cent yesterday to close at £17.67.