Global fund manager Aberdeen Asset Management has emerged as a major shareholder in BHP Billiton, with a 6.34% stake worth a massive $12.25 billion.
BHP announced to the ASX this morning that Aberdeen’s holding had jumped from 5.4% to 6.34% this week, courtesy of Aberdeen’s £550 million ($998 million) acquisition of the Scottish Widows Investment Partnership from Lloyds Bank.
Insurance giant SWIP had been sitting on a BHP holding of just under 1% before its acquisition by Aberdeen. Following the completion of the SWIP acquisition on Wednesday, Aberdeen has become one of the mining group’s largest shareholders.
Aberdeen has been a shareholder in BHP for some time, along with the world’s largest mining investment firm BlackRock. Between them, the two funds managers now control more than 12% of the company – collectively holding more than $20 billion of BHP stock.
Talk intensified this week that BHP is considering de-merger options (with a view to spinning off certain assets into a separate company). Key stakeholders such as Aberdeen and BlackRock will be highly influential should such a scenario come to pass as any such move would have to be put to a shareholder vote.
Aberdeen’s combined assets under management now exceed £320 billion, making it one of Europe’s largest asset management companies.