BHP Billiton is facing pressure from two activist shareholders over its $20 billion splurge on U.S. shale oil and gas fields, but may resist calls to dump the business just as oil prices are sliding.
Investors grumble that while BHP Billiton is a good operator in deepwater oil and gas, its shale business, first acquired in 2011, has been a capital drain and shareholders would be better off with a sale. But now may not be the right time.
BHP says it sees petroleum as a core business, including most of the shale operations.
“The risk is doing it for the wrong reasons – because people are telling you do it – and getting out quickly. We’re at $40 oil. It’s not necessarily the greatest time to be contemplating that,” said Brenton Saunders, an analyst at BT Investment Management, which owns BHP shares. Read More…