BHP-Billiton shares fell 25c to $19.04 this morning after hitting a low of $18.83 but the wealth created by the world’s biggest miner is still something to behold.
Splashing $10 billion on WMC will not even soak up two years worth of free cash flow. After all, BHP-Billiton is now capitalised at about $115 billion, so even an over-priced $10 billion splash only represents 8.7 per cent of BHP-Billiton’s total value.
And haven’t the executives made plenty out of the China boom that has sent a basket of commodities to record highs?
Remember Paul Anderson, the yank who came out to fix a broken Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd in 1998. He stayed for four years and was paid about $30 million for the privilege, including a fat termination payout that saw his 5 year stay reduced to 4 so that genius Brian Gilbertson could take over.
The $30 million isn’t even half of what he made because Paul Anderson walked out of BHP-Billiton with an incredible 3.1 million shares, although Don Argus and the BHP board worked hard to ensure that figure never actually appeared in an annual report.
The 3.1 million comprised freebie “performance rights” and options that were priced at about $7 so his average entry price was just $4.61. Writing out a cheque for $14.3 million can’t be too hard when the stock you’re buying was yesterday worth a cool $60 million on the market.
Assuming Anderson has held on to all his shares, his gross take from 4 years Down Under is $75 million – which arguably puts him ahead of Bob Joss who pocketed more than $50 million from his time at Westpac.