BHP Billiton is under scrutiny again on concerns it may ditch a policy of paying ever higher dividends. As Kirsty Basset reports, its share price takes another hammering.
At least seven people were killed last week when two dams burst at the Samarco mine in Brazil - which is fifty per cent owned by BHP. The company is now facing millions of dollars in fines and penalties over the tragedy. This week has seen further bad news for the world's biggest mining company. Sinking commodity prices are piling on the pressure. But NAB's Nick Parsons says it won't last forever. (SOUNDBITE)(English) NICK PARSONS, GLOBAL CO-HEAD OF FX STRATEGY AT NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK SAYING: "Gold, copper and oil will recover - the question is when. Very difficult to put a timescale on that." BHP shares hit a seven year low on Friday over concerns it may ditch a policy which has seen dividend payouts go up annually. It comes after Goldman Sachs said it needs to HALVE its dividend - to get it down to a sustainable level. AND as commodity prices fell to multi-year lows on worries over slower global growth. (SOUNDBITE)(English) NICK PARSONS, GLOBAL CO-HEAD OF FX STRATEGY AT NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK SAYING: "When the U.S. dollar goes up, commodity prices fall and vice versa. So really all that commodity prices are telling us is that we've got a strong dollar." UBS is forecasting an almost 50 per cent fall for BHP's 2016 net earnings - the company's AGM will be held in Perth next week.