BHP unveils spin-off as profit just misses forecasts

MELBOURNE Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:01am EDT

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MELBOURNE Aug 19 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton will spin off a roughly $14 billion company to shareholders, offloading assets it acquired in its 2001 merger with Billiton, but held off announcing a highly anticipated buyback with its results on Tuesday.

Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie, in the top job for just over a year, said the move to simplify BHP to focus on its best assets in iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum would rev up growth in cash flow and boost returns.

"By concentrating on what we do best, the development and operation of major basins, we can improve our productivity further, faster and with greater certainty," Mackenzie said in a statement.

The plans were unveiled as BHP reported an 8 percent rise in second-half underlying attributable profit to $5.69 billion, according to Reuters calculations off the full year result. That was just below forecasts for a second-half profit of $5.94 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine's SmartEstimate.

The spin-off company, yet to be named, will bundle together BHP's aluminium, manganese, Cerro Matoso nickel, some coal assets and the Cannington silver, lead and zinc mine. (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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