Australia's Woodside Snares BHP Oil, Gas Business in $28 Billion Merger

BHP Group has agreed to sell its petroleum business to Woodside Petroleum in a merger to create a top 10 independent oil and gas producer worth A$38.5 billion ($28 billion) with growth assets in Australia and the Americas, Reuters reported. BHP's exit from petroleum, which made up just 5% of its annual earnings, speeds up its exit from fossil fuels amid pressure from environmentally conscious investors. BHP CEO Mike Henry, however, said the company remained committed to metallurgical coal used in steel making. BHP shareholders will be paid in Woodside stock, giving BHP investors a 48% stake in the merged group. That effectively values BHP's petroleum arm at about A$18.5 billion ($13 billion) on Tuesday's close, roughly in the middle of analysts' valuations between $10 billion and $17 billion. For Woodside, the deal is transformational, doubling its output, expanding its footprint in liquefied natural gas, removing the main obstacle to its $12 billion Scarborough gas project and giving it near-term growth options in the Gulf of Mexico. BHP's assets, including its aging assets in Australia's Bass Strait where its petroleum business originated, generate cash that will help Woodside fund the Scarborough project as well as developments in the Gulf of Mexico. Read more.
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