Metals

BHP resumes its hunt for ‘future’ metals with another stab at Oz Minerals

In the high stakes game of corporate takeovers candour can be the first casualty. BHP seemingly never abandoned its hunt for copper and nickel miner Oz Minerals, even after its original $8.4 billion offer pitch was rebuffed three months ago.

The Big Australian implied at the time it was happy to walk away from the prize but evidently, that was a bluff.

Instead, BHP has continued to stalk Oz Minerals, neatly camouflaging its position behind protestations from boss Mike Henry that the miner wasn’t willing to chase its target at any cost.

BHP chief executive, Mike Henry

BHP chief executive, Mike Henry

Oz Minerals on Wednesday put itself into a trading halt regarding a ‘potential change of control transaction’ and all roads seemingly lead to BHP.

A week ago, Henry described BHP’s original offer for Oz Minerals as ‘full and fair’ and expressed disappointment that it hadn’t gone anywhere. If the parties have now come to an agreement then the only question left unanswered is the price.

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It could be that any revised offer is just good enough for BHP to win the opportunity to undertake due diligence and negotiate further with Oz Minerals’ management.

BHP has until now put Oz Minerals in the “nice to have” rather than the “must have” basket. Investors and analysts haven’t been sold on that sentiment. Neither was Oz Minerals’ board, which has recognised that while it may not be a “must have” asset for BHP, its appeal is not lost on Henry and his team.

BHP’s initial offer, at $25 per share, landed when OZ Minerals’ share price was in a funk. Having slipped as low as $16 a share, the miner’s stock was feeling the pinch from depressed copper price. And given copper’s long-term demand trajectory, the skinny bid was duly rejected by Oz Minerals.

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