UK Vote Ratifies Local Decision for BHP

BHP shareholders in London have joined their Australian counterparts in approving plans to scrap the group’s dual listing and move the main stock market listing to the ASX.

More than 97% of shareholders in London voted in favour of the plans.

The move, already approved by 96% of proxy votes lodged at a meeting in Melbourne earlier on Thursday, is expected to unleash a wave of selling in London and an even bigger buying surge in Sydney between now and January 31 when the change happens.

BHP shares will continue to be listed in the UK, but as an Australian business and under a standard listing. They will remain listed in the US and South Africa as well.

Nothing will change for investors with shares in the UK company – they will be entitled to exchange their shares for those in the Australian company, and ‘the dividend policy and ability to distribute franking credits will remain the same’, BHP said in an explanatory statement this week.

Owners of BHP’s London-listed shares on the FTSE 100 index account for 42% of the overall register split between London and Sydney.

But analysts expect that these changes heralds the sale of a lot of UK-listed shares by funds.

The deal could see the sale of about 140 million London-listed shares – worth an estimated 3.5 billion pounds (about %A6.6 billion) at Wednesday’s closing price, according to estimates by advisory firm Grant Samuel in an independent expert’s report commissioned by BHP ahead of the meetings.

Analysts reckon between 90 and 250 million BHP shares will be bought in Australia in the rebalancing.

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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