Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. have been contacted by institutional investors demanding the companies abandon plans for future acquisitions and instead return cash through share buybacks, the Sunday Telegraph said.
The shareholders, who have written individually rather than collectively, have asked for commitments from the mining giants that they use their strong balance sheets to buy back “multibillion pounds” worth of shares, the newspaper said.
The investors have moved to preempt another round of acquisitions in the mining industry following BHP’s failed $39 billion attempt to buy Canada’s Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., according to the newspaper.
BHP Billiton said Nov. 15 it will purchase $4.2 billion of its shares, company spokesman Ruban Yogarajah said in a telephone interview today. “We already have an active program of returning cash under way,” Yogarajah said.
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