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Number 05/01


BHP Billiton Plc (BHP Billiton) today announced the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the partners of the Columbus Stainless Steel Joint Venture (Columbus) and the Spanish stainless steel producer, Acerinox S.A.(Acerinox), for the sale of 64 per cent of the joint venture.

Acerinox is listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange and is the world's fifth largest producer of stainless steel. BHP Billiton believes that the proposed transaction will provide Columbus with a stronger outlook in the consolidating global stainless steel environment.

The three equal partners in Columbus are Samancor, Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation Limited, and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa. BHP Billiton holds its interest in Columbus via its 60 per cent ownership of Samancor. The sale will result in BHP Billiton's effective interest in Columbus reducing from 20 per cent to 7.2 per cent.

The consideration for the transaction is 5.8 million Acerinox shares, subscribed equally by the partners. These shares equate to an 8.8 per cent interest in the increased issued share capital of Acerinox.

The proposed transaction is subject to negotiating binding agreements and obtaining regulatory approvals. It is expected to be effective from 1 January 2002, following the incorporation of the joint venture. BHP Billiton will take a charge, after tax and minority interests, of US$50 million to attributable profit in the results to 30 June 2001.


Contact

Australia
Dr. Robert Porter
Vice President Investor & Media Relations
Phone: +61 3 9609 3540
Mobile: +61 419 587456
e-mail: Robert Porter

Mandy Frostick
Manager Media Relations
Phone: +61 3 9609 4157
Mobile: +61 419 546 245
e-mail: Mandy Frostick


United Kingdom
Marc Gonsalves
Vice President Investor Relations & Communication
Phone: +44 20 7747 3956
Mobile: +44 7768 264 950
Fax: +44 20 7747 3914
e-mail: Marc Gonsalves


South Africa
Michael Campbell
Vice President Investor & Media Relations
Phone: +27 11 376 3360
Mobile: +27 82 458 2587
Fax: +27 11 376 3362
e-mail: Mike Campbell


United States
Francis McAllister
Manager Investor Relations
Phone: +1 713 961 8625
Mobile: +1 713 480 3699
e-mail: Francis McAllister

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