SYDNEY – Elliott Management is willing to back a board member of BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) to be its chairman upon the retirement of Jac Nasser despite deep reservations about its top management, a source close to the activist shareholder said on Thursday.
Elliott, founded by billionaire Paul Singer, is pushing for a $46 billion overhaul at BHP that includes spin offs, dismantling a corporate structure built on dual listings in London and Sydney and returning more money to shareholders. The Anglo-Australian miner has rejected the demands.
The activist investor blames Nasser and BHP’s top management for what it sees as bad investments by the world’s biggest mining house, particularly in U.S. shale gas, the source said. But Elliott believes “there are personalities on the board that are talented and capable”, with the “potential for someone to be selected from the existing board”, the source said.
It is unclear what impact Elliott’s backing or opposition to a particular candidate will have on the chairman’s appointment.
Elliott has been meeting with major BHP shareholders since going public with its restructuring proposals on April 10 to gauge support for change at the company.
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