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Number 17/06

BHP Billiton today announced that it has successfully completed the US$2 billion capital management programme announced in February 2006, buying back a total of 114.82 million shares, or 1.9% of the issued share capital of the BHP Billiton Group.  

BHP Billiton Chief Financial Officer, Alex Vanselow, said the rapid completion of the programme demonstrated BHP Billiton’s commitment to enhancing shareholder value.

“We are delighted to have been able to complete our announced programme in such a short space of time and in a way that maximises value to the Group and our shareholders.  The reduced number of shares on issue means that all shareholders will benefit from the increased earnings, cash flow and return on equity attributable to each share. BHP Billiton has now returned US$11.4 billion to shareholders since June 2001 through a combination of dividends, buy-backs and other forms of capital returns.

“We continue to review the Company’s capital requirements and, in accordance with our commitment to strong capital discipline, will continue to return surplus capital to shareholders when appropriate, whilst ensuring that we are able to finance our significant pipeline of growth opportunities and support our progressive dividend policy, regardless of short term commodity price movements,” Mr Vanselow said.

The A$2.25 billion (US$1.6 billion) off-market buy-back of 96.0 million shares in BHP Billiton Limited was completed on 3 April 2006 at a price of A$23.45 per share, representing a discount of 14% to the volume weighted average price of BHP Billiton Limited shares over the 5 trading days up to and including the closing date of the buy-back.  

The on-market buy-back of shares in BHP Billiton Plc commenced on 27 April 2006 and was completed today.  A total of 18.82 million shares have been bought back at an average price of 1153.56 pence (totalling £217 million or US$403m). This represents a discount to the average BHP Billiton Limited share price over the period of 8.8%.

For further information please contact:

Australia
Samantha Evans, Media Relations
Tel:    +61 3 9609 2898  Mobile: +61 400 693 915
mailto:Samantha.Evans@bhpbilliton.com

Jane Belcher, Investor Relations
Tel:    +61 3 9609 3952  Mobile: +61 417 031 653
mailto:Jane.H.Belcher@bhpbilliton.com

United Kingdom
Mark Lidiard, Investor & Media Relations
Tel:    +44 20 7802 4156  Mobile: +44 7769 934 942
mailto:Mark.T.Lidiard@bhpbilliton.com

Illtud Harri, Media Relations
Tel:    +44 20 7802 4195  Mobile: +44  7920 237 246
mailto:Illtud.Harri@bhpbilliton.com

United States  
Tracey Whitehead, Investor & Media Relations
Tel:  US +1 713 599 6100 or +44 20 7802 4031
Mobile: +44 7917 648 093
mailto:Tracey.Whitehead@bhpbilliton.com

South Africa
Alison Gilbert, Investor Relations
Tel:    +27 11 376 2121  UK +44 20 7802 4183
mailto:Alison.Gilbert@bhpbilliton.com

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