Breakingviews

Oilmen fix smart $2.2 bln deal in Papua New Guinea

May 20, 2016

Oil Search’s offer to buy InterOil is canny and opportunistic. The buyer will only pay later for future gas discoveries. An agreement to sell a big chunk straight on to France’s Total also cuts the chance of a rival bid. It leaves InterOil investors with an unattractive choice.

BHP admits dividend pledges and mining don’t mix

February 23, 2016

The world’s largest miner slashed its interim dividend 74 pct and followed rival Rio in scrapping a “progressive” policy. About time. Promising payouts will only ever go up is daft in such a cyclical sector. Consistency matters less than safeguarding the balance sheet.

Aussie port and rail battle defies market gravity

January 28, 2016

Takeover interest has kept Asciano’s stock afloat in falling markets. Now that local rival Qube has formalised its $6.3 bln breakup bid, original suitor Brookfield is under pressure to respond or lose the backing of Asciano’s board. The recent selloff raises the stakes further.

BHP Billiton plays catch-up with $7 bln shale hit

January 15, 2016

Plunging energy prices forced the miner to write down its U.S. oil and gas assets again. The non-cash charge is large but just brings BHP’s balance sheet closer to the outside world’s estimation. A bigger step would be to follow the market’s lead once more and slash the dividend.

Ivan Glasenberg may be mining’s last man standing

December 31, 2015

The Glencore chief outlasted his peers when the commodity boom turned in 2013. The sector may be due another shakeout in 2016 if prices keep falling. But Glasenberg’s big stake in Glencore and his newfound dash of humility mean his copper plating should last another year.

Cheap batteries will give utilities electric shock

December 28, 2015

Local power suppliers have long enjoyed a natural monopoly. But the arrival of low-cost home energy storage from the likes of Tesla makes consumers less dependent on electricity networks. Batteries may even let some developing countries skip the grid altogether.

Rio Tinto capex cuts won’t stop race to the bottom

December 8, 2015

The Anglo-Australian miner is cutting spending by $1.5 billion to save cash amid the rout in commodities. But it’s not the same as slashing production – which is what’s needed to bring metals prices back up. The current strategy should make shareholders nervous.

Qube edges ahead in Aussie infrastructure fight

November 26, 2015

Brookfield’s $6.5 bln agreed bid for Australia’s Asciano has hit serious opposition from competition regulators. The Canadian group could yet salvage its takeover. But interloper Qube, whose break-up consortium is already examining Asciano’s books, now looks like the favourite.

Aussie target Asciano could push for higher bid

November 10, 2015

The ports and rail group is now fielding competing, $6 bln-plus takeover proposals from Canada’s Brookfield and a break-up consortium led by local interloper Qube. The target’s board may want to see a clearer gulf in value before hitching itself to Qube’s wagon.

No knockout in Australia’s $6 bln waterfront brawl

November 6, 2015

Canada’s Brookfield moved to salvage its takeover of Asciano, buying a 19 pct stake to match last week’s lightning raid by rival Qube. The Aussie challenger could hit back by making a full bid for the ports and rail group. Or antitrust referees could haul Brookfield away.