Monthly Archives: August 2018

‘Enough is enough’: Why Sir Frank Lowy walked away from Westfield

After nearly 57 years as Australia’s shopping centre czar, Sir Frank Lowy has opened up about the reasons he is walking away.

On Monday, it was announced that Europe’s largest listed commercial property company, Unibail-Rodamco, agreed to buy his Westfield Corp in a $32.8 billion deal.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Sir Frank said it was time to step away from the “useless formalities of public life”.

“It took away a lot of the pleasure,” Sir Frank told the AFR.

“I won’t have to face elections and non-elections and all the other public company issues I have been engaged with for such a long time. Enough is enough!

“Most of that box ticking that was created over the last 15 years or so was a waste of time.”

Sir Frank said he was looking forward to whatever the next chapter brought.

“I’ve been thinking how long can I cope. How long could I expect to be at the top of my game, when is it when I’m no longer at the top,” he told the AFR.

“One way or another I’ve been 57 years at the head of this company and I’m looking forward to the change.”

Sir Frank’s decision to stand back marks the closing stages of one of the most successful careers in Australian business.

Along with then business partner John Saunders, he built up their Westfield shopping centre empire from scratch in Australia in the 1960s, before expanding to the US, New Zealand and the UK.

The empire was split in 2014, with the international business run by Steven and Peter Lowy, and the Australian and New Zealand malls spun off into the separately listed Scentre Group.

Sir Frank cut all ties with Scentre last year but remained at the helm of Westfield Corp. Steven Lowy is still on the Scentre board and the family retains a 4 per cent stake in the local shopping centre operator.

The Lowy family has agreed not to sell its interest in Westfield while the Unibail-Rodamco deal is underway, and to vote in its favour provided the board doesn’t recommend a superior proposal and an independent expert finds it is in the best interests of Westfield securityholders.

with Carolyn Cummins

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Graffy’s back: Basketball legend joins UC to boost sporting bid

NEWS – Carrie Graf will not be re-applying for the role of Opals coach, but will become the UC’s first coach in residence, Bruce, Canberra. 14th February 2013. Photo by, Colleen Petch of The Canberra Times.The University of Canberra has recruited the most successful coach in WNBL history to help them make a “quantum jump” as Australia’s leading sports university.

Former Australian Opals and Canberra Capitals mentor Carrie Graf has been appointed as the university’s director of sport in a newly created position to oversee the WNBL program and a women’s rugby union sevens team.

The Capitals haven’t made the finals since 2011 and are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon this year after once being regarded as the benchmark for women’s sport in Australia.

University of Canberra vice-chancellor Deep Saini said Graf was the perfect person to help revive the Capitals and build the rugby program, as well as managing the Australian University of Sport program and University Games participation.

Saini committed to increasing the Capitals’ funding to help them compete with WNBL rivals after the team’s budget was cut in recent years, hindering coach Paul Goriss’ ability to recruit star players and maintain a roster.

The University of Canberra bought the Capitals’ licence three years ago, but the team has struggled to fire on the court.

“[Graf’s] job will be to raise the profile of the University of Canberra as a leading sports university in the country, and if there’s a person in this country that can do it, Carrie Graf is that person,” Saini said.

“We are at a different stage of our evolution five years ago … we are now at a point where we need someone of the calibre of Carrie to get to the next step. This next step is gradual or incremental … it’s going to be, in my view, a quantum jump.

“We’re going to look for all possible sources of funding for the Capitals, we recognise the Capitals need greater financial backing to be a more successful team and definitely for them to get back to their glory days.”

Fairfax Media revealed last month the university had started a strategic review of its sports programs, with Graf emerging as a key figure in its plans for the future.

Graf is the first piece of the puzzle, with a Capitals administration reshuffle expected to follow after Graf starts in the role on January 22.

Coach coached the Capitals for almost 15 years and guided the club to six of its seven championships. She has won more games than any other coach in WNBL history.

But she quit coaching in 2015 to spend more time with her family and to give the Capitals a fresh start under a new leader.

“It’s exciting to be a part of the university going forward and in terms of what they want to do with sport,” Graf said.

“The foundations are already here. Now it’s about how we take it to the next level. The Capitals have been a massive part of my career … but this role appealed to me for a whole lot of different reasons.

“I’ll always have a soft spot for the Capitals … we set the standard for a long time but now a lot of clubs have surpassed us. But it wasn’t the only reason, this was a sporting opportunity for me.”

Graf’s long-term vision is for women to have the opportunity to be full-time athletes rather than juggling work and sport to earn a living.

The WNBL is trying to keep pace with the rapidly changing women’s sporting landscape, which now includes national Australian football, cricket, rugby league, rugby union, netball and soccer competitions.

Minimum wages have increased across the board and some athletes are able to have sport as their sole income. But Graf wants athletes and administrators to aim higher.

“I like to think women’s sport in Canberra helped set the stage … but I still think it’s got a long way to go,” Graf said.

“There’s a wave right now about women’s sport, but I think when we look at it more critically, there’s still a long way to go in terms of being fully professional, wages and full seasons. It’s a great start … put it on TV and people will watch. We can certainly take another step.”

Meanwhile, the Capitals climbed off the bottom of the WNBL ladder with an impressive 91-80 away win against the Spirit in Bendigo on Thursday night.

Skipper Nat Hurst (18 points) and Kate Gaze (10 points, six rebounds) impressed for the visitors, who led by just one point at three-quarter time before a dominant final quarter (20-10) secured Canberra its fourth win of the season.

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Arnold denies being approached by FFA for Socceroos job

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold cooled suggestions he will become the next Socceroos coach having denied he’s been approached by Football Federation Australia to take charge of the national team.

Reports surfaced late on Wednesday night linking Arnold with the vacant post at the Socceroos, suggesting the FFA offered Arnold the job. However, on Thursday morning, Arnold quashed those reports and reiterated that he’s had no contact with the FFA about coaching Australia at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

It’s understood the FFA are yet to open talks with any potential coach and could delay an appointment until as late as February once an external panel of experts has finalised its recommendations. The panel met for the first time late on Wednesday night and are still forming the criteria for the next Socceroos coach. Arnold was flattered to be considered the frontrunner for the position but denied having any contact from the FFA.

“There’s nothing been offered so I don’t even think about that,” Arnold said.

“I could sit here and say exactly the same as I did last week. It’s obviously flattering to be considered for the national team as a proud Australian. But I have a contract with Sydney FC, I believe we’re doing well but we need to do greater than we are at the moment.

“The reality of everything is I’m contracted to Sydney FC. I love this club, I love that group of players. I treat those players like my kids and I wouldn’t sit here and say something that’s not real out of respect for those boys because those boys work hard for me every week, they perform at a high level every week. This is all getting in the way of us talking about what a fantastic team Sydney FC is.

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Church leaders told to put aside ‘resentment’ to address abuse

Church leaders told to put aside ‘resentment’ to address abuse Healing: Abuse survivor and former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson outside the royal commission final sitting with Audrey Nash, whose son Andrew committed suicide, aged 13, after sexual abuse at a Hunter Marist Catholic school.

Joy: A survivor hugs an emotional shadow social services minister Jenny Macklin.

Renewal: Bill Shorten and Audrey Nash take part in a smoking ceremony outside the royal commission final sitting.

Relief: Abuse survivor and lawyer for many Hunter victims, John Ellis, outside the royal commission.

Questions: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arriving at the royal commission.

Bipartisan: Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull arrive at the royal commission.

TweetFacebook Sexual abuse of children a “national tragedy”: commission Calls for change across Australian institutionsTHE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has called for church and other institutional leaders to put aside their resentment and support necessary changes to address the “national tragedy” of child sexual abuse, duringan emotional final sitting.

In a speech on Thursday in front of a packed gallery, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and shadow social services minister Jenny Macklin, commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said children were abused over decades because society failed.

“Some of our most important state instrumentalities have failed. Police often refused to believe children. Child protection agencies did not listen to children. Investigation processes were inadequate and criminal procedures were inappropriate. Our civil law placed impossible barriers on survivors bringing claims against individual abusers and institutions,” Justice McClellan said.

“In some cases the aggressive hand of the lawyer was engaged, ensuring that an appropriate and just response to a survivor was not possible.”

Shine the Light: the Newcastle Herald’s complete coverage of the Royal Commission

The final sitting in Sydney was held a day before the royal commission hands a final report and recommendations to Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove in Canberra, ending the landmark five-year inquiry.

Justice McClellan said the more than 8000 survivors who had given evidence in private sessions and the many more who gave evidence at more than 50 public hearings had had “a profound impact on the commissioners”.

While many churches had referred to institutional child sexual abuse as a problem in the past, Justice McClellan told the final sitting that “child sexual abuse in institutions continues today”.

“We heard in private sessions from children as young as seven years of age who told us they had been recently abused,” he said.

While many thousands of children had been sexually abused in institutions, it was important to remember that the number of children sexually abused in home settings “far exceeds” those sexually abused in institutions, he said.

“The sexual abuse of any child is intolerable in a civilised society. It is the responsibility of our entire community to acknowledge that children are being abused. We must each resolve that we should do what we can to protect them,” Justice McClellan said.

Ian Kirkwood: From the darkness, the light starts to shine

The royal commission final sitting included many people who had campaigned for a commissionor had given evidence during public hearings.

They included Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest and whose husband Anthony died in June before the royal commission completed its work. They also included Hunter royal commission campaigners Bob O’Toole, Audrey Nash and Steve Smith, lawyer for many Hunter survivors John Ellis,advocate for children abused in homes, Leonie Sheedy and retired Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox.

Abuse survivor and former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson, whose apology to survivors in 2015 and vow to stop a culture of “mates looking after mates” within the church led to extraordinary scenes during a Newcastle Anglican diocese hearing in late 2016.

Outside the commission Mr Shorten committed to supporting the royal commission recommendations, saying: “I don’t believe Australians will accept excuses from the parliament if we don’t fully embrace the royal commission, and that starts with a redress scheme, a proper national compensation scheme.”

The decades of institutional child sexual abuse were “a national shame, a national tragedy”.

“Now is not the time to use legal tactics or insurance company practises to somehow discredit or demolish the royal commission report. Australians of good conscience should get behind this royal commission report,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr O’Toole said the final sitting was a fitting end to a royal commission that validated the lives of many thousands of Australians, where survivors and political leaders sat together to acknowledge the work of the commission.

Audrey Nash, whose son Andrew took his own life at the age of 13 while a student at Marist Hamilton school, said the final sitting “brought it all back – all the pain and misery”.

“But it took five years with the commission and Ifinally found out what happened to my boy.”

Bishop Thompson said the final sitting was “an important affirmation”.

“Institutions have to continue to listen and be truthful about what they’ve had to confront and they have to have the courage, leaders have tohave the courage, to stand up for survivors.”

He said he would “give it a 50:50 chance” that that would happen.

“It depends on who they appoint in the leadership in the future.”

Hunter survivors including Steve Smith will stand outside Government House in Canberra on Friday to wave the commissioners as they present the report and recommendations to Sir Peter Cosgrove.

At least some part of the report is expected to be released on Friday.

Iconic harbour swim back

DIVING IN: The Newcastle Harbour Swim will return on Australia Day next year with up to 400 competitors expected to take on the cross-harbour challenge. Picture: Daniel DanuserNEWCASTLE’S iconic AustraliaDay harbour swim will return next year after organisers gained approval to run the event.

There were fears the trans-harbour swim would never return after Stockton Surf Life Saving Club was forced to cancel itin Januarydue to safety concerns and “increased marine activity”.

Club president Callan Nickerson said the swim had been running for 24 years and had only been cancelled twice.

“It’s a really uniquely Newcastle event and we wanted to ensure it had a future,” he said.

“The swim is great way tokick off your Australia Day and not something that we wanted to lose. You don’t get to swim across the world’s biggest coal portevery day.”

Upto 400swimmers from across NSW and Queensland are expected to compete in the ocean swimon January 26.

Previously about 60 per cent of the swimmers have beenfrom the Hunter, with other large groupsfrom country NSW.

Newcastle-bredOlympic swimmers Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Justin Norris are both previous winners of thecharity swim that raises money forStockton surf club.

The swim has traditionally been the club’s major annual fundraiser.

Mr Nickerson said funds were used to buyinfrastructure or equipment for the club.

“It’s basically for buying surf life saving equipment that allows us to patrol the beach,” he said.

“This has always been our biggest fundraiser and the funds arevital for our surf life saving operation.”

The main 1400-metre swim across the harbour to Stockton and back begins at Queen’s Wharf at 11am.

It will be preceded by the single crossing for social swimmersand juniorsat 10am from Stockton to Queens Wharf.

Iconic harbour swim back TweetFacebook Photos from the final swimPictures: Fairfax MediaFerries will be available to take swimmers from Newcastle to Stockton for the start.

Swimmers in the 700-metre event are allowed to use flippers and other swimming devices.

“You can swim in a three-piece suit if you like for the single crossing,” Mr Nickerson said.

“We’ve had people in their eighties do the swim and there will beplenty of water safetyon hand in IRBs, boards and skis to make sure everyone has a great day.”

The harbour swim wascancelled in January 2015 due to debris and increased marineactivity.

Flooding left its fate in limbo until the last minute in 2016, but it ultimately went ahead.

Mr Nickerson said he was confident the harbour swimwould continue well into the future.

For more informationvisit 梧桐夜网oceanswims南京夜网

‘Underquote the sh– out of it’: Agency cops record $880k fine

A Balwyn-based real estate agency has been fined a record $880,000 for underquoting 22 properties in some of Melbourne’s blue chip suburbs, the strongest penalty for the practice in Victoria.

In handing down the fine on Thursday, Justice Bernard Murphy said the size of the punishment would deter other agencies from similar behaviour, given several recent Consumer Affairs prosecutions, “and common experience” pointed to “a widespread problem of underquoting by residential real estate agencies”.

Fletcher and Parker (Balwyn) Pty Ltd was fined $40,000 for each of the 22 properties that was underquoted by sales representatives in its Canterbury and Blackburn offices in 2015.

The agency had a cavalier attitude to its responsibilities, Justice Murphy said. The evidence included: The quote of the week in one 2015 sales meeting was: “market the f— out of it and then underquote the shit out of it – good vendor management”;Sales staff were at least once provided training which focused on cases where underquoting had seemingly led to a high sales price and a significant spike in interest;One agent telling a vendor the best way to get “a record price” was to advertise a property with a low price, and later remove the price guide altogether;Sales agents describing Consumer Affairs as “a toothless tiger”;Agents in the Canterbury and Blackburn office were warned by the chief executive to ensure their price quotes aligned with price estimates.

Justice Murphy highlighted one example where the seller of a Balwyn North property asked her agent why her house was marketed between $1.1 million and $1.2 million when the agency estimated it would sell for between $1.5 million and $1.65 million.

She was told the quote was low because “it brings in a broader market range” and ‘people with a low budget will often come up, and it will also catch the people with bigger budgets as well”.

The $880,000 penalty is more than double the commission it made from the 22 properties and constitutes more than one third of the company’s profit for the last financial year.

Thursday’s case was the latest in a string of prosections for underquoting, the biggest of which was last year when the Richmond office of Hocking Stuart was fined $330,000 for underquoting on 11 properties listed for sale in Richmond and Kew.

Fletcher and Parker Balwyn chief executive Bradley Brown apologised to those affected.

“I want to apologise to all the homebuyers whose valuable time we wasted as a result of this unacceptable conduct by a few members of our team,” he said.

“This type of behaviour went completely against everything we stand for as a business and how we treat our customers, which is why we have taken significant steps since the incidents were uncovered in 2015 to ensure they never happen again.”

Mr Brown acknowledged that homebuyers faced enough challenges in the market.

“They don’t need underquoting, and we don’t tolerate it either, which is why we have put strict compliance measures in place to stamp it out for good,” he said.

Justice Murphy ordered Fletcher and Parker publish notices about its misleading and deceptive conduct in full-page newspaper ads and on its website, and to pay $40,000 to Consumer Affairs, the prosecuting agency.

Consumer affairs minister Marlene Kairouz said: “Underquoting is dishonest, misleading and against the law – and today’s decision shows that if you do it, you’ll pay the price.”

With AAP

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The Trip: Borneo wildcat safari

NAME Margarita Steinhardt, Sydney, NSW

THE TRIP Wildlife watching safari in Deramakot Forest Reserve, Borneo

THE ITINERARY Over the past three years, Deramakot Forest Reserve in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo has been gaining a reputation as the go-to place to see Borneo’s wild cats.

Urged by the desire to see a clouded leopard in the wild, I teamed up with three other wildlife watchers and we booked a 10-night safari with Adventure Alternative Borneo. We all flew to Sandakan, and from there on AA Borneo took care of everything else: transfers, permits to enter Deramakot, all food and drink and accommodation. They also provided us with an unstoppable support team: Mike our eagle-eyed guide, Caleb – the fearless driver and Giddi – a talented cook, who wasn’t opposed to cooking some of our meals out in the field.

For the next 10 days, our activities alternated between long night drives in search of wildlife and lazy days around the living quarters. After searching the jungle for seven nights, we finally found our main quarry – the notoriously elusive clouded leopard. The following night, we found an equally elusive marbled cat camped up on a tree branch about 40 metres above our heads. While looking for cats, we had close encounters with Borneo pygmy elephants, watched flying squirrels soar across the sky, saw orangutans, colugos and a plethora of other wildlife.

The accommodation in Deramakot is not flash, but comfortable. We had a three-bedroom chalet to ourselves that came equipped with airconditioning and en suite bathrooms.

BEST BITS Apart from the unique and rarely-seen wildlife, it was the magic of the jungle at night. On clear nights, we could see the bright band of the Milky Way arching over the treetops.

WORST BITS Borneo is one of the wettest places on earth, so be prepared to get caught in a tropical downpour at least once during your stay.

BEST TIP Visit between March and November to have the highest chance of dry weather.

WHERE TO NEXT Argentina and Brazil for jaguars and ocelots.

Community spirit shines

FAMILY FIRST: Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson pictured with her family.As the year draws to a close I find myself reflecting on thepeople who’ve touched my life during the year. The trials and triumphs they’ve faced. And, ultimately, the courageous spirit that defines our community and lifts us through every adversity. I’d like to thank every individual, school, community,business group, and sporting association that has invited me along to functionsand meetings during the past year. I’ve been grateful for your warm welcome. I also thank my team, who have helped many, many people with issues such as NDIS, NBN, Centrelink and so much more. They make my role so much easier and I couldn’t do it without them.

It has been an absolute delight to meet volunteers and advocates who give so much to our region, and to help allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in Stronger Communities and Sporting grants to support great work in our electorate.

I’m proud that I have been able to bring our plights and our achievements to the halls of federal Parliament. I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for our veterans; fight for the rights of those affected by PFAS contamination; and demand that the Government come up with an energy policy that ensures fairer prices for individuals and reliable electricity for industries. The chambers of Parliament House have rung with my praises for a multitude of people and projects that have helped make our community the wonderful place it is to live, work and play.

The Parliamentary record reflects my gratitude to the firefighters who battled the devastating bushfires that struck the Coalfields in January and again in September, and the pages of Hansard convey the colour and atmosphere of the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival and the eucalypt scents of Port Stephens Koalas.

On a personal note, my family has this year supported my eldest daughter Lara through her HSC and this month welcomed a new foal to our farm. She was born the day the Marriage Equality bill passed Parliament, and we named her Aequitas in honour of thehistoric occasion. From my family to yours, we hope you have a safe and happy festive season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson

Bizarre incident on Maitland’s Belmore Bridge

Belmore Bridge, Maitland. Photo: Floyd Mallon A man has been charged after a bizarre incident that involved Belmore Bridge being blocked off, the assault oftwo police officers and a mobile phone thrown into the Hunter River.

It started about 10.45pm Saturday when a 22-year-old man was asked to leave a High Street hotel after an altercation.

Police said the man was later spotted sitting on the railing of theBelmore Bridge with his legs dangling over the side.

A passing motorist noticed the man about midnight andalerted police with concerns for his welfare.

Police spoke to the 22-year-old man, who claimed he couldn’t swim andallegedlyrefused to come off the railing or provide his details to police. He then threw his mobile phone into the river.

Police initially treated the matter as a possible self-harm incident, blocked offthe bridge and called in ambulance and police negotiators to talk the man down.

Another man then approached the police tapeidentifyinghimself as a friend. Police said he ignored officers’ directions and crossed the tape.

The man on the railingpleaded with police to keep the other man away.

Officers tried to physically restrain the other man, but he allegedly resisted and an altercation broke out.

Police said the first manthen yelled “don’t touch my mate”, hopped back off the railing and ran towards the melee.

Police officers were assaulted before the two men were wrestled to the ground and subdued.

The 22-year-old Singleton manwas arrested and taken to Maitland Police Station where he was charged with climbing a structure, assaulting police and resisting arrest. He willappear in court in February.

The other man, a 24-year-old from Metford, will also appear in court on charges of hindering police.

Two police officers sustained minor injuries, but did not require treatment. Police saidalcohol and or drugs were believed to be a factor rather than mental health issues.

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BHP reportedly hires four banks to prepare for US shale exit

BHP, the world’s largest miner, has asked four investment banks to help it prepare for a sale or spin-off of its underperforming US shale oil and gas unit, with a view to taking a decision in early 2018, sources have said.

BHP said in August it aimed to sell its unconventional onshore shale assets in the Eagle Ford, Permian, Haynesville and Fayetteville basins, which it acquired at the height of the oil boom and could be valued at more than $US10 billion ($13.2 billion).

It has hired Barclays and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch to assess options for their sale, including whether they would be sold together or separately, as they may appeal to different potential buyers, the sources said.

It has also asked Citi and Goldman Sachs to research the potential spin-off of the unit into a new company, the sources added.

BHP, Citi, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch declined to comment. Barclays and Goldman Sachs did not reply to a request for comment.

Although global oil prices have steadied after sinking to multi-year lows of $US27 a barrel in 2016, they remain some 40 per cent lower than the $US112 highs hit in 2014.

Meanwhile, analysts from UBS have predicted that BHP will unveil a boost for shareholders in early 2018, in the form of an on-market buyback of its London-listed stock, which it expects to be announced at the miner’s interim results in February.

UBS also predicts good cheer next year for investors in other mining companies, with the overall quantum of returns from miners expected to be bigger in 2018 than in 2017. And it says that mid-tier miner South32 “may announce a special dividend”.

In a new report titled “Australian Resources. 2018 Outlook: Cash focus to remain”, UBS forecasts firm commodity prices in 2018, along with “healthy profits”.

“We believe another wave of cash returns to shareholders is likely in the February 2018 reporting period. The continuation of this theme is likely to continue to attract the marginal global investor, who we believe is underweight mining, back to the sector,” UBS said.

UBS lifted its target price on BHP to $31.50, up from $30, and maintained its “buy” rating on the stock.

“BHP’s change of messaging, exposure to oil, renewed focus on returns (both on capital and to shareholders) and possible sale of US shale in 2018 are expected to be positive drivers for the stock,” UBS said.

The UBS experts, led by Glyn Lawcock, also significantly lifted their net profit after tax estimate for BHP for fiscal 2018, from $US8.2 billion to $US9.52 billion.

“2017 saw the beginnings of a new era for BHP with a new Chairman appointed and some major decisions announced at the fiscal 2017 result. BHP made the decision to exit US shale within 2 years, indicated that the Jansen potash project would be reconsidered and only go ahead if it passes strict capital allocation framework tests, a balance sheet metric of US$10-15bn net debt was introduced, and a simple message that BHP going forward would focus on cash flow, capital discipline and value,” UBS said.

“We expect BHP to announce an on-market share buyback of Plc stock in February 2018 (at its fiscal 2018 interim result) with the potential for further returns post any proceeds from the sale of US shale (most likely an off-market buy-back of Ltd stock). We expect to see BHP focus on lifting returns via productivity initiatives with minimal capital expenditure.”.

UBS said it had “a preference for BHP over Rio as we see BHP announcing capital management”, and that it had upgraded Fortescue Metals Group and Whitehaven Coal to a “buy” rating from “neutral”.

UBS also lifted its price estimates for the key commodities of iron ore, hard coking coal and thermal coal in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

On its US divestment plans, BHP is now pursuing two potential exits of its onshore US shale assets: a sale of the assets or separation into a standalone company, which is usually a tax-free solution for the parent company.

BHP will keep its conventional (oil) assets in the US Gulf of Mexico, Australia and Trinidad and Tobago.Bad bets

The miner’s entire petroleum division, valued at more than $20 billion, was its second-biggest earner behind iron ore until 2014.

But bad bets on US shale and collapsing oil and gas prices turned it into a big drag from 2015. As a result, US activist investor Elliott Advisors, which has built up a 5 per cent stake in BHP’s London-listed arm, urged the sale of the whole US petroleum business to help boost shareholder value.

with Reuters

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