BHP has announced plans to return $US10.4 billion ($14.7 billion) to shareholders through a special dividend and share buyback.
The money comes from the now-completed sale of its remaining onshore US shale oil and gas assets to BP for $US10.5 billion, following the recently completed sale of its Fayetteville gas assets for $300 million.
Minus some completion costs, the company netted $10.4 billion from the divestments and had previously committed to returning all that money to shareholders.
“We made a commitment that all the net proceeds from the disposal of our onshore US assets would be returned to shareholders and we are honouring that commitment now that the sale transactions have been completed,” BHP’s chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said.
“Returning this $US10.4 billion will bring the total cash returned to shareholders to $US21 billion ($29.7 billion) over the last two years.”
The company is planning to split the return to shareholders evenly between an off-market buyback at up to a 14 per cent discount and a special dividend to be payable in January 2019.
BHP said it expects to announce the results of the off-market buyback on December 17, 2018 and will determine the amount of the special dividend on that date.
The company said its special dividend would be fully franked and paid on January 30, 2019, with an ex-entitlement date of January 10, 2019 on the ASX.
BHP has taken a range of large write-downs on the assets that it has ploughed around $50 billion into since it purchased them in 2011.
That included a $3.8 billion post-tax impairment on the carrying value of the assets taken earlier this year and a more than $10 billion hit two years ago that dragged the company down to the biggest loss in Australian corporate history.
Investors are clearly pleased the company’s US shale oil and gas saga is now over, with its shares up 4.5 per cent to $33.67 by 10:30am (AEDT).