BHP abandons £39bn pursuit of Anglo American as City fights back against predators

BHP has abandoned its bid for London-listed miner Anglo American as the City continues to fight off foreign predators.

With less than one hour before its 5pm deadline yesterday, the Australian group said it had not secured the backing to make a firm offer for Anglo, one of the biggest firms on London’s stock market.

The announcement ends a five-week battle and means BHP must wait at least six months before making another push.

‘While we believed our proposal was a compelling opportunity to effectively grow the pie of value for both sets of shareholders, we were unable to reach agreement,’ BHP chief executive Mike Henry said.

It comes after Anglo bosses refused to extend yesterday’s 5pm deadline, which coincided with South Africa’s election.

No deal: BHP revealed it had not been able to secure the backing to make a firm offer for Anglo American

South African politicians, notably mining minister Gwede Mantashe, opposed the deal, adding a layer of political complexity. But Anglo’s board yesterday said it had held ‘extensive engagement’ with shareholders before concluding there was ‘no basis for a further extension’.

Anglo last week rebuffed BHP’s third offer of £39billion but agreed to takeover talks after two earlier bids from its larger rival of £31billion and £34billion.

This adds to the firms that are pushing against takeover swoops, with Currys and Direct Line both defending themselves from predators this year.

A major hurdle had been the requirement for Anglo to sell two of its South African businesses as BHP bosses had their sights set on the firm’s lucrative copper business.

But the no-deal announcement will boost the embattled London market, which has seen both gambling firm Flutter and travel group Tui call it quits.

However, the company may not be out of the woods just yet.

Dan Coatsworth, investment analyst at AJ Bell, said: ‘BHP has fired the starting gun for others to throw their hat into the ring and it seems almost certain that another player could bid for Anglo American in the near future.’

Marina Calero, analyst at RBC Europe, said Glencore, Rio Tinto and Vale were the ‘most likely candidates’.

BHP’s decision puts pressure on Anglo chief executive Duncan Wanblad to show it can boost value for shareholders.

Shares have climbed a fifth since the takeover talks first kicked off.

Wood Group could fall into foreign hands after Dubai firm Sidara sweetened its offer, valuing the Aberdeen firm at 230p, or £1.59billion.

Wood said that it was ‘evaluating’ a ‘fourth and final’ proposal.

Shares fell 2.5 per cent, or 4.7p, to 185.6p.