BHP chief forgos bonus after gas losses

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Marius Kloppers, the chief executive of BHP, became the latest FTSE 100 mining boss to forgo his bonus yesterday after being forced to write $2.84bn (£1.8bn) off the value of a US shale gas business he bought at the top of the market.

Mr Kloppers, who received about $4.7m of bonuses in the form of cash and deferred shares last time, said he and Mike Yeager, head of the petroleum division, would not take any bonus in the year to 30 June 2012.

He had to write down the value of BHP's Fayetteville shale gas assets in Arkansas by more than half, just 18 months after buying them for $4.75bn, after growing competition roughly halved US gas prices and increased the cost of labour and equipment.

Mr Kloppers compounded the disappointment by also cutting the value of the group's Nickel West business in Western Australia by $450m as nickel prices plummet on concerns about growth in Europe, the US and China.

The decision to waive his bonus comes after Rio Tinto's boss, Tom Albanese, announced in February that his FTSE 100 mining giant was taking an $8.9bn charge against its Alcan aluminium business, which it bought for $38bn in 2007. Mr Albanese and Guy Elliott, his chief financial officer, waived their bonuses for the year.

Meanwhile, BHP's writedown comes just days after BP and BG Group separately announced hefty writeoffs on their own US shale gas assets, again hit by the growing popularity of "fracking", or hydraulic fracturing - a process where gas is released from rocks by blasting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into it at high pressure.