BHP Names New Company South32

BHP Billiton is confident in the prospects of its new spinoff company despite plunging commodity prices.

The mining giant has named the company South32, which is intended to reflect the link between the majority of its assets in Australia and South Africa – the 32nd parallel south line of latitude.

BHP chief financial officer Graham Kerr, who will be South32’s chief executive if the demerger goes ahead in mid-2015, says the company’s assets continued to perform well, and a change of strategy was unlikely despite despite weaker commodity prices.

South32 will operate aluminium, nickel, silver and coal assets, with 25,000 employees across southern Africa, Australia, Colombia and Brazil.

“They are already well positioned in their respective industries and are well placed to benefit from the strong demand forecast for our products,” Mr Kerr told reporters on Monday.

The demerger, to be voted on by shareholders in May, was designed to separate BHP’s gigantic iron ore and petroleum resources from its smaller operations, he said.

The new company’s name was the idea of a West Australian employee, Mr Kerr said, while its logo is intended to symbolise strength from employees, commodities customers and communities.

“While our grounding in the southern hemisphere is an important part of who we are, South32 will retain the global reach that the company currently has as part of BHP Billiton,” he said.

The company anticipates a global support base, with share market listings in London, Johannesburg and Sydney.

The company’s London listing would not complicate the message, Mr Kerr said.

“In the UK they have a very good understanding of South Africa,” he said.


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