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Australia has leapt to the defence of BHP Billiton by insisting any major changes to the corporate structure of the miner would need to be consistent with the country’s “national interest.”
The intervention from Canberra follows a proposal by Elliott Management, an activist shareholder, to replace its current dual listed company with a single UK domiciled company, with a primary listing in London and a secondary listing in Sydney.

BHP has already rejected the proposal, arguing the “costs and associated risks” outweigh any potential benefits.

Under Australian law any significant change to the corporate structure of BHP would need approval from the company’s foreign investment review board and the company’s treasurer.

“A change in the corporate structure and listing arrangement would need to be carefully considered against the provisions of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act,” said a Treasury spokeswoman.

“If the changes were significant they would need to be consistent with Australia’s national interest test under that Act.”

Earlier today, BHP said in a statement to the ASX that it noted the publication of a letter from Elliott, which arrived in the final hour of the Australian trading session on Monday and caused shares to spike and close 4.6 per cent higher.

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