BHP Billiton in new £7.5bn takeover

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BHP billiton is buying Petrohawk Energy for $12.1bn (£7.5bn) cash – the mining giant's second major investment in US shale gas so far this year.

The $38.75-a-share offer is 65 per cent higher than Thurday's price and values Petrohawk at $15.1bn.

It gives BHP Billiton another million acres in Texas and Louisiana, with an estimated 2011 net production of 158,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day, as well as proved reserves of 3.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent.

It adds to the 487,000 acres of the Fayetteville shale bought by BHP Billiton through its $4.75bn acquisition of the Arkansas gas assets of Chesapeake Energy in February.

The group's shares fell 2 per cent to 2,340p, as the market registered caution about the price of the deal.

Marius Kloppers, the BHP Billiton chief executive, said the deal is central to the company's strategy. He said the price was a "unique opportunity" for Petrohawk investors. "The proposed acquisition of Petrohawk is consistent with our strategy and provides us with even greater exposure to the world's largest energy market, while also broadening our geographic and customer spread," he said.

The Petrohawk takeover also puts BHP Billiton on track to deliver compound annual production growth of more than 10 per cent for the rest of the decade. Taken together with Chesapeake, BHP has now more than tripled its resource base in 12 months.