BHP Billiton drops planned Nickel West sale

12th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

Mining giant BHP Billiton on Wednesday called a halt to the planned sale of Nickel West, saying no bidder had offered the right price for the West Australian business.

The world's biggest miner said a review of Nickel West was completed and the "preferred option, the sale of the business, has not been achieved on an acceptable basis".

"The company will only pursue options that maximise value for shareholders," the Anglo-Australian firm said.

"At this time, Nickel West will remain in the BHP Billiton portfolio as a non-core asset and the company will continue to operate the business to realise its full value.

"BHP shares were down 1.

76 percent to Aus$33.

57 in early Wednesday trade.

BHP has not released an estimated sale price for Nickel West, but The West Australian newspaper reported the miner failed to received bids over the past two weeks that were close to the Aus$500 million (US$435 million) to Aus$800 million valuation it had placed on the business.

"The focus of Nickel West will remain on delivering safe and efficient production whilst pursuing every opportunity to maximise productivity, to reduce operating costs and increase free cash flow," Nickel West asset president Paul Harvey added in a statement.

Nickel West -- which includes the Mt Keith, Cliffs and Leinster mines, concentrators, a smelter and refinery -- was up for sale earlier this year amid a shift by BHP towards a focus on core mining assets.

The company said in August it was spinning off non-core aluminium, bauxite and nickel assets into a single entity that would be dual-listed in London and Sydney, with a secondary listing in Johannesburg.

© 2014 AFP

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