Euro debt woes impacting bank financing: BHP chief

28th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Europe's debt crisis has had a negative impact on bank financing, BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers said Monday but added that the mining giant was not exposed to the euro.

Kloppers said there had been a "fairly large change" in the way lenders, particularly European banks that have led trade finance in the past, had operated in recent months as the euro crisis created market turmoil.

"We really started seeing the European conditions impacting, for example, trade finance, availability of LCs (letters of credit) and so on," he told journalists in a teleconference.

"We expect that we'll continue to see an impact."

Asked whether the global miner was prepared for any break-up of the eurozone, Kloppers said it was not exposed to the currency because all its accounts and sales were in US dollars.

"All of our trade exposures are US dollars denominated, our bank loans are US dollar denominated, our bank loans are being swapped to US dollars, so from all of those perspectives, we don't see any real impact," Kloppers said.

"And we don't have any operations that have euro exposure in terms of operating costs."

The world's largest diversified miner, which has iron ore projects in Australia, also said it was not expecting a major change in demand from Chinese steel mills in the short-term.

"When we talk to our Chinese customers, there is not a sentiment that the operating rate of the steel industry will improve or change dramatically over the next little while," Kloppers said.

"We are likely to see around the current steel production rates to continue for a little, which is clearly below what we've seen at other points in time."

BHP this year posted a record net profit of US$23.65 billion.

© 2011 AFP

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