BHP has six bidders looking at Nickel West unit - report

PERTH, July 6 Sun Jul 6, 2014 7:39am EDT

PERTH, July 6 (Reuters) - Six potential bidders, including Dutch commodity trader Trafigura and Hong Kong-listed MMG Ltd, are looking at the books of BHP Billiton's Australian nickel unit, the Australian Financial Review reported on Sunday, without saying where it got the information.

X2 Resources, a private company run by former Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis, Canadian nickel miner Sherritt International Corp, Glencore Plc and Chinese nickel refining company Jinchuan Group are also doing due diligence on Nickel West, which could be worth as much as A$800 million ($749 million), the newspaper said.

BHP spokeswoman Emily Perry declined to comment on the report. Glencore spokesman Francis de Rosa and Trafigura representative Joscelin Kwek also declined to comment.

Spokespeople for X2 Resources, Sherritt International, MMG and Jinchuan could not be reached for comment.

BHP said in May it was reviewing the future, including the potential sale of all or some of its West Australian nickel assets, which include the Mt Keith, Cliffs and Leinster mines, the Kalgoorlie smelter, Kambalda concentrator and the Kwinana refinery.

Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie told reporters last month the company was still looking to simplify its portfolio by selling some assets and named Nickel West as one.

The company has grouped Nickel West with two other unwanted businesses, aluminium and manganese, and flagged earlier this year that one option would be to spin off all three into a separate company. (Reporting by Morag MacKinnon; Editing by Mark Potter)