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Shell circles BHP shale set-up

BHP (AU:BHP) could soon have its shale assets taken off its hands, if reports about Shell and Blackstone’s US$10 billion bid for the division are true.
 Shell circles BHP shale set-up  Shell circles BHP shale set-up  Shell circles BHP shale set-up  Shell circles BHP shale set-up  Shell circles BHP shale set-up

The Fayetteville shale operation could have new owners by the end of the year

Staff reporter

Jefferies has forecast a strong uptick in BHP's share price if the sale goes through as reported by Sky News this week.

"The shale gas business has been a major overhang for BHP and a key reason why we have not been more positive on the stock," analyst Christopher LaFemina said.

"The problem with this business was evident in BHP's H1FY18 results: the oil spot price increased by 20%, and natural gas and LNG prices increased as well.

"Despite the recovery in prices, BHP Petroleum delivered EBITDA growth of less than 2% year-on-year and reported a 48% decline in EBIT to just $188 million (5.2% margin)."

BHP produces oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. 

LaFemina said the shale business was the main drag on these petroleum results.

Jefferies had forecast an $8 billion sale price for the division. 

BHP CFO Peter Beaven was asked by a shareholder on Friday for an update on the shale oil sale, but was circumspect in his answer.

"The data rooms are now open," he said.

"We would expect to see bids from the middle of this calendar year ... happily there is a lot of interest."

LaFemina has kept BHP on a hold rating, with a target price of £15 (US$20.72) per share in London.

BHP was down 3.2% week-on-week on the ASX, to A$28.32/share (US$22.10).