BHP Billiton Chief Financial Officer, Alex Vanselow, said the rapid completion of the program demonstrated BHP Billiton's commitment to enhancing shareholder value.
"We are delighted to have been able to complete our announced program in such a short space of time and in a way that maximizes value to the Group and our shareholders. The reduced number of shares on issue means that all shareholders will benefit from the increased earnings, cash flow and return on equity attributable to each share. BHP Billiton has now returned US$11.4 billion to shareholders since June 2001 through a combination of dividends, buy-backs and other forms of capital returns.
"We continue to review the Company's capital requirements and, in accordance with our commitment to strong capital discipline, will continue to return surplus capital to shareholders when appropriate, whilst ensuring that we are able to finance our significant pipeline of growth opportunities and support our progressive dividend policy, regardless of short term commodity price movements," Mr. Vanselow said.
The A$2.25 billion (US$1.6 billion) off-market buy-back of 96.0 million shares in BHP Billiton Limited was completed on 3 April 2006 at a price of A$23.45 per share, representing a discount of 14% to the volume weighted average price of BHP Billiton Limited shares over the 5 trading days up to and including the closing date of the buy-back.
The on-market buy-back of shares in BHP Billiton Plc commenced on 27 April 2006 and was completed today. A total of 18.82 million shares have been bought back at an average price of 1153.56 pence (totaling £217 million or US$403m). This represents a discount to the average BHP Billiton Limited share price over the period of 8.8%.
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