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13 March
Comments Off on BHP, analysts rebuffs Elliott’s reform plan

BHP, analysts rebuffs Elliott’s reform plan

Analysts have added their voices to BHP Billiton’s opposition to a plan put forward late Monday by activist shareholder Elliott Advisors to dump the global miner’s dual company structure as part of a series of moves which are intended to boosting shareholder returns.
Nanjing Night Net

In its rejection, BHP said the costs would outweigh any benefits.

Analysts with both Citi and RBC were quick to pan the idea, although both thought the US petroleum assets in particular to be ‘non-core’.

“The streamlining of BHP Billiton ownership structure to extract value from franking credits as well as a spin-out of the US onshore division are not novel ideas,” RBC Capital’s mining analyst Paul Hissey said.

“We do not necessarily see a collapsing of the [dual listed company] structure would unlock value as we think the only way to distribute franking is through dividends to the Australian shareholders or buyback which we think is currently available to [BHP] in the current format,” Citi analysts Clarke Williams and Trent Allen told clients.

In a letter sent to BHP following private meetings with the miner, Elliott outlined the proposals in detail. The investor has pushed for action to lift investor returns at a number of companies such as Samsung Electronics, Akzo Nobel and SABMiller.

BHP’s response prompted its London-listed stock to pare early gains of nearly 6 per cent . By 1500 GMT, it was 2.3 per cent higher.

“After reviewing the elements of Elliott’s proposal, we have concluded that the costs and associated risks of Elliott’s proposal would significantly outweigh any potential benefits,” BHP said in a statement.

Elliott’s plan would result in BHP remaining listed in both London and Australia, but would scrap its dual-company structure in favour of a single headquarters and tax residency in Australia.

The activist investor called for BHP to shift its US petroleum assets into an entity to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and commit to returning excess cash to shareholders.

The Citi analysts described BHP’s US petroleum assets as ‘non-core’ with RBC agreeing the merits of BHP retaining its US petroleum sector assets as ‘uncertain’.

“We value the US petroleum business at $US13.5b ($18b) vs. Elliott’s $US22b valuation (although we do agree with the sentiment around the cumbersome nature of both the DLC and the uncertain benefits from petroleum diversification, especially regarding the mismatched pro-cyclical capital spend of the shale business)???,” RBC’s Hissey told clients.

In outlining its proposal, Elliott argued BHP has underperformed comparable mineral and petroleum companies and its plan could provide shareholders with an increase in value of up to 48.6 per cent for holders of Australian shares and 51 per cent for holders of UK shares.

BHP disagreed, however.

“There is no obvious discount in BHP Billiton’s trading multiples relative to the weighted average of relevant mining and oil and gas peers,” it said.

The miner also said it regularly reassessed how to create value and reviewed company structure. It had spoken with Elliott over many months and would consider a more detailed response, it added. It dismissed Elliott’s plan for buying back shares as “a formulaic approach without regard for the cyclical nature of the resources industry or the returns available from other uses of cash”.

Commodity prices crashed in 2015 and early 2016, but have since recovered strongly, helping to drive gains across the mining sector. Mixed views

Started in 1977, Elliott manages assets worth more than $US32.7 billion, according to the company.

It says it holds a “long economic interest” of about 4.1 per cent of the issued shares in London-listed BHP, without specifying the instruments used to build the stake. It also says it has rights with its affiliates to acquire up to 0.4 per cent of the issued shares in ASX -listed BHP.

Other big shareholders were cautious about Elliott’s plan.

“(The) principle is OK. Detail and resultant uplift to shareholders might be more complex/less obvious,” Aberdeen Asset Management’s Head of Equities Hugh Young said in emailed comments.

Aberdeen is the second-biggest investor in BHP’s London-listed shares, with a 4.9 per cent stake worth $US1.3 billion.

Representing another big shareholder, Standard Life Investments Director Frances Hudson said it was not clear the plan was “in the interest of long-term investors or the company”.

Over the past two years, BHP has underperformed relative to fellow miners Rio Tinto , Glencore and Anglo American. But over 15 years, it is ahead of them.

Since it was set up in 2001, BHP said it had returned approximately $US23 billion to shareholders in buybacks and about $US45 billion in cash dividends.

It said it had also taken many steps to increase shareholder value, cut the number of assets in its portfolio by $US7 billion since 2013 and cutting unit costs by more than 40 per cent .

“We have laid the foundations for the group to substantially grow the base value of its operations,” BHP said in its statement. “Elliott’s proposal would put this at risk.”

– with Reuters

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 March
Comments Off on Growthpoint, Cromwell increase tenant lists

Growthpoint, Cromwell increase tenant lists

The stronger leasing markets have led to an increase in landlords Growthpoint and Cromwell Corp’s tenants profiles across Melbourne and Sydney.
Nanjing Night Net

Growthpoint Properties Australia has undertaken 28,323 square metres of leasing since the release of its half-year results in February 2017, including a 26,517 sqm logistics warehouse at 120 Link Road, Melbourne Airport to The Workwear Group, part of the Wesfarmers empire, for 10 years.

The swathe of new deals, with asset sales in Queensland, has boosted Growthpoint’s total portfolio occupancy, as at March 31, to 98 per cent, with 2.5 per cent vacancy in the office portfolio and 0.3 per cent in industrial.

Growthpoint currently has only 7 per cent of its leases, by income, potentially expiring over the next 24 months.

Growthpoint’s head of property, Michael Green, said the company would continue to act with “immediacy, and in advance of potential expiries, to lease up vacant space within its portfolio”.

According to Cushman & Wakefield, with effective rents trading at a significant discount to Sydney, Melbourne stands as an attractive proposition for companies looking to enter Australia.

“In the year ahead, a decline in the vacancy rate is expected to support strong rental growth, however as the next development cycle draws closer this growth can be expected to slow,” C&W’s research says.

In Sydney, Cromwell Property Group has secured two big-name retailers as long-term anchor tenants at its flagship $130 million Northpoint redevelopment.

Woolworths and Olympus Medical Centre have been quick to sign on for space in the integrated three-level retail facade.

Due for completion in 2018, the precinct will create a shopping, dining and lifestyle hub on the North Shore.

Damian Horton, Cromwell head of property, said the recent leases were an “exciting milestone” for the Northpoint redevelopment project, which is considered a central catalyst for North Sydney’s rejuvenation.

“The tenants are a perfect fit for a building that will become a hub for office workers and local residents. We are excited to be making a significant contribution to the North Sydney Council’s vision for the area,” Mr Horton said.

Cromwell has signed a 10-year lease with Woolworths to commence in mid-2018, securing the supermarket’s first store in North Sydney, while Olympus Medical Centre has signed a 10-year lease for 724 sqm on the ground level.

“With landlord-favourable conditions firmly established, existing tenants are expected to prioritise lease extensions and those with the flexibility to hand back excess space are likely to do so. Service sector employment growth, and anticipated negative net supply in 2017 and 2018, are expected to maintain landlord-favourable market characteristics,” C&W research says.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 March
Comments Off on West Melbourne car park fetches $25m

West Melbourne car park fetches $25m

Chinese developer Holder East has paid about $25 million for a car park in West Melbourne near Cbus’ new police headquarters site.
Nanjing Night Net

The 1877 square metre site was billed as the first car park deal for 2017, but the property at 496-508 La Trobe Street is effectively a development site, held by Indonesian syndicate Regent Realty Australia for the past 15 years.

Colliers International agents David Sia, who negotiated the deal with Daniel Wolman, Oliver Hay and Matt Stagg, said the vendor had no plans to develop the unpermitted site, which is on the border of West Melbourne and the CBD.

“They saw the rising land tax bills and fear of over-supply as reasons to part ways with the asset,” Mr Sia said.

“Given the size of the site, it’s a strong indication of the strength of the market for land, achieving about $13,000 a square metre which represents the top end of land rates for this precinct,” he said.

The property was purchased in 2002 for $2.9 million. Some historic industrial buildings were demolished and permits for a residential project were issued but never executed. It is next door to the 1880s Spinks Tinsmiths Building at 488 La Trobe Street, where a16-storey apartment building has been proposed.

Thomson Geer partner Eu Ming Lim acted for the vendor. The purchaser has plans for a residential or office development, Mr Sia said. The site is close to the new Haileybury City campus and Far East Consortium’s massive West Side project.

The low-profile Holder East is an active trader in city property.

Late last year the developer bought 501-509 King Street for $6.02 million, one week ahead of its scheduled auction. The site adjoined another property at 511-525 King Street which Holder East had bought in 2014 for $10.05 million, giving the firm a 2000 square metre development site.

The company was cashed up after selling a 2000 square metre site at 97 Franklin Street to Scape Student Living for $56 million.

Meanwhile on the other side of the city, six parties including a major Chinese investor and some active Southbank players, are understood to be competing for a key site behind Crown Casino.

Prices offered for the three-storey building at 190-196 City Road are understood to be more than $20 million, a substantial premium on the price paid by Datacom, a New Zealand technology company, in 2005. Datacom bought the property for $7.15 million after it passed in at auction.

It is selling the property with a newly signed four-year lease in place with three three-year options.

The 4307 square metre building is on a 1597 square metre site surrounded by towers, which makes it an attractive future development target.

CBRE agent Josh Rutman, who is marketing the building with Lewis Tong and Mark Wizel, declined to comment on the deal.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 March
Comments Off on To get the answer, investors must ask the right question

To get the answer, investors must ask the right question

Ask the right question and maybe you will get the correct answer.
Nanjing Night Net

And if you are a local shareholder in BHP Billiton, figuring out whether the shares you hold trade at a premium, or a discount, to their London traded counterpart is fundamental to deciding whether you should back any push to collapse the dual-listed company structure, with separate shares listed in the Australian and London markets.

Late on Monday, investment funds associated with US activist investor Paul Singer went public with a proposal to prod global miner BHP Billiton to collapse its dual company structure as well as spin-out its US petroleum assets.

BHP immediately ruled it out, saying it has looked at making the move but costs would outweigh the benefits, and the idea was greeted coolly by analysts, who mostly doubted just how much better off shareholders would be if the reorganisation was implemented.

Dubbed the “value unlock plan”, Elliott Advisors which claims to speak for as much as 4.1 per cent of the capital of BHP’s British-listed arm, would collapse the miner’s dual company structure into a single Australian-headquartered entity with its primary listing on the London Stock Exchange with Australian investors to receive a CHESS depositary interest.

The proposal is aimed at retaining index inclusion in the two markets, which is important to retaining sharemarket valuations.

But if the proposal was implemented, would offshore investors gain access to the premium BHP shares trade in Australia or would Australian investors end up seeing the shares trade at the discount BHP shares are accorded in London?

Or as Macquarie asked in a research note: Does the British stock trade at a discount or the Australian stock trade at a premium?

The common view is that the premium accorded BHP shares traded on the ASX stems from the benefit of franking credits.

“There is the real risk in our view that a combined single listed entity could trade towards the UK multiples rather than maintain the Australian multiples,” the broker warned clients.

Over the past two years, BHP shares traded in Britain have traded at a 15 per cent discount to the Australian-traded shares. The ASX200 trades on a price-earnings multiple of around 16.3 times, analysts said, which is significantly higher than the multiple of 14.5 times shares included in the FTSE100 index trade at.

The limited spread of investible assets available through the ASX, with a bias towards financial services and mining stocks, along with the broadly higher dividends paid by public companies in Australia when compared with offshore markets due to their maturer status are often mentioned as reasons why multiples are higher on the main ASX indices.

The other element of the Elliott Advisors proposal, BHP spinning out its US petroleum assets into a separate entity to be listed on the New York stock exchange, won broader support from analysts, although whether this would be beneficial to shareholders would depend on the level of debt the entity would be loaded up with if the plan were to proceed.

Group-wide, BHP’s net debt stood at around $US20 billion at the end of December which is expected to decline to around $US15 billion by mid-year, thanks to strong commodity prices, iron ore and coal in particular.

“The level of debt ascribed to the petroleum division is critical in valuing a demerger option, particularly given we only expect the US petroleum assets to consume all cash generated for the next eight years,” Macquarie told clients.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

13 March
Comments Off on Supermarkets set to pass rising costs on to customers: Citi

Supermarkets set to pass rising costs on to customers: Citi

AFR – WOOLWORTHS CEO. Reporter: Sue Mitchell. Woolworths Leichhardt supermarket, Leichhardt Marketplace Photo shows, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci pictured at their Leichhardt store as he points out what woolies is doing to win back customers and restore sales growth . Photo by, Peter Rae Thursday 20 October, 2016 Photo: Peter RaeShoppers should kiss goodbye steady prices in the supermarket.
Nanjing Night Net

Supermarkets are paying more for electricity, meat and fruit and vegetables, and will soon pass these price rises on to customers, said investment bank Citi.

“Australian supermarket industry growth is near 30-year lows of 2.5 per cent,” said Citi analysts led by Craig Woolford. “The reason is a simple one. Price inflation is absent in this market.

“Cost pressures are building around raw materials and energy prices, which is likely to trigger higher inflation in our view.”

The analysts point out that sugar, palm oil, coffee, dairy and oil prices are all up by double digits in the past year, and raw material ingredients and packaging in grocery items accounted for about 20 per cent of retail prices.

Furthermore, the analysts note that meat prices are on the rise due to export demand, and fresh produce inflation will rise by between 5 and 10 per cent in the next three months given flood and cyclone damage.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci recently warned that soaring electricity prices were a “material issue” and would lead to higher prices on the shelves. At $360 million a year, electricity is Woolworths’ third largest cost, behind labour and rent.

“We manage what we can manage with energy efficiency. But given the cost increases that are coming through right now, we are trying to outrun a bear, but I am not sure we can,” Mr Banducci said in late March.

“We will have to in some way, very cautiously and carefully, pass those through to our customers, unfortunately.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.