BHP Billiton posts record 15.4-billion-dollar profit

LONDON, August 19, 2008 (AFP) – The world’s biggest miner BHP Billiton announced record annual net profits of 15.39 billion US dollars (10.46 billion euros), driven by soaring commodity prices and strong Asian demand. The Anglo-Australian resources giant, which was particularly boosted by higher earnings from petroleum and iron ore, beat last year’s net profit of 13.42 billion dollars by 14.7 percent to set an Australian corporate record.

“Demand for raw materials in the emerging market economies has remained strong,” BHP said in an annual results statement.

“In particular, China remains a key driver of global commodity consumption through its position as a net importer of raw materials,” said BHP, which launched a hostile takeover bid for rival Rio Tinto in February.

The group’s share price closed up 0.52 percent at 1,537 pence in London.

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers, addressing a media briefing after the results, said the group’s 150-billion-dollar offer for Rio Tinto made “more sense than ever.”

“In the context of the longer-term growth, the demand challenges that the world will deliver and the supply challenges that I have described, the combination of BHP Billiton