BHP-Billiton board tilt in 2008


December 2, 2018

Stephen Mayne has nominated for the board of BHP Billiton at the forthcoming AGMs on a platform to protest against the proposed Rio Tinto takeover and encourage long-serving chairman Don Argus to retire.

From Mayne Report edition on September 26

The BHP-Billiton notice of meeting is out and while the biographical material was published as submitted, the board has watered the platform down to the following:

Mr Mayne's consent to nomination indicates that he is standing on a platform concerning the following two issues:

* he is opposed to the proposed takeover of Rio Tinto by BHP Billiton. He contends that it could be highly dilutive for BHP Billiton shareholders, citing BHP's merger with Billiton. He also contends that it is an unneccesary distraction for BHP Billiton's management.

* he believes that it is time for the Chairman, Mr Don Argus, to retire in view of his age and his length of tenure as a Director (since 1996) and as Chairman (since 1999).

I'd proposed the following wording which was far punchier:

Mr Mayne believes BHP-Billiton is embarking on an ill-considered empire-building frolic with this putative Rio Tinto takeover. He is standing for election to give shareholders a vehicle through which to register their opposition to this proposal. Mr Mayne contends the Rio Tinto merger could be highly dilutive for BHP-Billiton shareholders, similar to what happened with BHP's 2001 merger with Billiton. In that case, 42% of BHP was exchanged for Billiton's assets which have proved to be patently inferior to the booming coal, iron-ore and petroleum operations held by BHP at the time. He also feels the exhaustive and complex Rio Tinto takeover process is an unnecessary distraction for management which should be focusing on capitalising on this once-in-a-generation resources boom.

Mr Mayne also believes it is time for BHP-Billiton chairman Don Argus to retire, rather than attempt one of the world's biggest takeovers to finish off his career. Mr Argus has been a director of BHP since 1996 and chairman since 1999. He is a 70 years old. Time's up! Please vote for Mr Mayne to send the board a strong protest message on the Rio Tinto takeover strategy and the need for generational change at the top.

You be the judge as to whether that is a reasonable edit and censor job by the board. Surely there needs to be some form of independent body such as the Australian Electoral Commission or even the ASX to adjudicate on these things.

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Mayne Report editions

Macquarie fee bonanza, Aristocrat, BHP tilt, foreign lists, Alex offer and Bradken SPP win
September 8, 2008

Centro and BHP tilts, Allco, Babcock, AWB, Woolies, Rupert and ex CEOs
August 28, 2008

Babcock audit fight, BHP tilt, Bradken SPP, Rich Listers and record traffic
August 12, 2008

BHP tilt, ASX conflicts, Rupert buy and recent trading
July 30, 2008

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Other Press
Bigger bonuses on the way at BHP - Sydney Morning Herald: Jamie Freed September 25, 2008