BHP Billiton annual net profit up 23.2% to $13.83b

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Global mining giant BHP Billiton posted a 23.2 per cent jump in annual net profit to $13.83 billion Tuesday, as spending cuts and productivity gains offset weaker commodity prices.

"With robust volume growth and further productivity gains expected, we remain confident in the outlook for the group," BHP's chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said in a statement.

The annual result is the first time BHP has posted a year-on-year increase in net profit since 2011, when it reported a record profit of $23.65 billion.

This year's profit is slightly higher than the $13.6 billion forecast by analysts.

The productivity boost saw underlying profit rise by 10 percent to $13.4 billion as the miner booked $2.9 billion in cost savings.

BHP's balance sheet strengthened during the period, with net debt falling by $1.7 billion to $25.8 billion.

The miner declared a final dividend of $1.21, a four percent year-on-year increase.

BHP Billiton on Tuesday said it will create a new independent company by spinning off some of its aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel and silver assets.

The world's biggest miner said this would allow it to focus exclusively on its core long-life operations -- iron ore, copper, petroleum, coal and potash -- while reducing costs and improving productivity.

The new entity will be listed in Australia with a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange with the demerger expected to be completed in the first half of the 2015 calendar year.

"For over a century, BHP Billiton has progressively reshaped its business to maintain its industry leadership," said BHP chairman Jac Nasser.

"We believe the proposed demerger, if implemented, will accelerate the simplification of the Group's portfolio, provide investors with choice and unlock value in both companies.

"Our shareholders will have the opportunity to vote on this proposal once the necessary approvals are in place."

The company said the new entity, to be named NewCo, would have assets in five countries.

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