Company news in brief

18 December 2018 | Business

BHP announces stock buyback

BHP will issue a special dividend for shareholders after selling its US shale assets, the miner said yesterday as it completed a US$7.3 billion stock buyback.

The world's biggest miner recently sold its US shale oil and gas operations to British giant BP for US$10.5 billion, and said it would return the funds to shareholders. The special dividend of US$1.02 a share will be paid out in mid-January. The stock buyback was set at Aus$27.64 per share.

"Completion of this programme will bring total cash returned to shareholders to US$21 billion over the last two years," BHP chief financial officer Peter Beaven said in a statement.

BHP's sale of the US assets was at a heavy loss, after it had bought the operations in 2011 for US$20 billion. The impairment charges from the sale saw BHP post a 37% slump in annual net profit to US$3.7 billion in the year to June 30.

The Anglo-Australian firm has announced or completed more than US$18 billion of divestments over the last six years to focus on its most profitable core long-life operations - iron ore, copper, petroleum, coal and potash. – Nampa/AFP

Canada mine finds biggest-ever N.American diamond

A Canadian mining company says it has discovered the largest gem-quality diamond ever found in North America, a yellowish stone roughly the size of a small chicken egg.

The 552-carat stone, found in a mine in Canada's Northwest Territories near the Arctic Circle, is nearly three times the size of the previous record holder, an 187-carat gem called the Foxfire, Dominion Diamond Mines said in a statement Saturday.

"A diamond of this size is completely unexpected for this part of the world," said Dominion, 40% owner of the mine. It called the find "astonishing."

Dominion said the rough stone - with some abrasion markings on its surface due to "the difficult journey it underwent during recovery" - would be polished and cut by a master cutter before its ultimate value can be determined.

The Foxfire, which came from the same Diavik mine, was said to glow bright blue in the dark. – Nampa/AFP

Hitachi to buy majority stake in ABB's power grid arm

Japan's Hitachi yesterday announced plans to buy a majority stake in the power grid business of Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB for US$6.4 billion, in what would be its biggest ever buyout.

The deal would make Hitachi the world's largest power grid company, local media said.

Under the plan, ABB will spin off its power grid unit, for which Hitachi will buy an 80.1% stake for 704 billion yen in early 2020, the Japanese company said in a statement.

ABB's power grid unit makes and operates infrastructure including power transmission equipment and control systems in numerous countries.

The deal would also make Hitachi the world's second-largest heavy electrical equipment maker by revenue, behind only General Electric, according to local media. – Nampa/AFP

Henkel has no plans to breakup

Henkel has no plans to break up, its chief executive told a German newspaper, adding the German consumer goods group's current structure gave it enough flexibility to grow.

Industrials groups around the world are grappling with shareholder pressure to reduce their complexity to create value and get rid of conglomerate discounts, leading some, including General Electric and Thyssenkrupp, to restructure.

"These trends and debates come and go. But we are generally sticking to our three business areas," Hans Van Bylen told Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview.

More than 61% of Henkel's ordinary shares are owned by members of the Henkel family share-pooling agreement, making it less vulnerable to attempts by activist shareholders to push for change.

"We are very happy about that. The family is pursuing a long-term strategy. This provides us with stability to develop the group on a long-term basis," Van Bylen said. – Nampa/Reuters

Criminal charges against Goldman Sachs

Malaysia said yesterday it has filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and two of the US bank's former employees in connection with a corruption and money laundering probe at state fund 1MDB.

Goldman Sachs has been under scrutiny for its role in helping raise funds through bond offerings for 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which is the subject of investigations in at least six countries.

Malaysia's attorney general Tommy Thomas said criminal charges under the country's securities laws were filed yesterday against Goldman Sachs, its former bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, former 1MDB employee Jasmine Loo and financier Jho Low in connection with the bond offerings.

"The charges arise from the commission and abetment of false or misleading statements by all the accused in order to dishonestly misappropriate US$2.7 billion from the proceeds of three bonds issued by the subsidiaries of 1MDB, which were arranged and underwritten by Goldman Sachs," Thomas said in a statement. – Nampa/Reuters

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