At last, BHP has finally landed a big
chunk of shares in WMC Resources. Today’s notice reveals it has lifted
its stake from 16.35% to 29.46% – an increase of 13.11% in 24 hours.
When you include BHP’s sneaky 4.31% in cash settled derivative
contracts, the Big Australian has a total exposure of 33.77% as it
pushes to crack 50% by 7:30pm tomorrow night in order to avoid its bid
from lapsing.

Given that the $9.2 billion cash takeover is the
largest in Australian history, yesterday’s commitments amount to a lazy
$1.2 billion worth of acceptances. BHP has committed to give WMC
shareholders their cash within five working days of reaching the 50%
threshheld, after which the $7.85-a-share bid goes unconditional.

Assuming
that occurs tomorrow, BHP will be sending out about $5 billion of cash
by next Thursday in what will probably the biggest single cash movement
in Australian corporate history, surpassing the $4.75 billion in cash
paid for Victoria’s Loy Yang A power station in 1996. The applications
for shares in T1 and T2 involved more cash overall, but these were
spread over a few weeks.

BHP will reveal today’s acceptances at 9:30am tomorrow morning and you can see that announcement and today’s notice from this link.

WMC
shares rose 1c to $7.82 this morning, suggesting the odds have shifted
in favour of BHP reaching the 50% threshhold by tomorrow. However,
there’s no guarantee that BHP will then get to 90% and be able to mop
up the minority shareholders.

BHP shares leapt 31c to $17.17
this morning on the back of a broadly stronger market and confidence
the WMC bid will be wrapped up, despite shareholders being lumbered
with a collective $600 million-plus capital gains tax liability to
Canberra.

What odds BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus will receive the highest gong available in the Queen’s Birthday honours?