The news has clearly perked up from down under: After failing to land several acquisitions, Australia's mining behemoth, BHP Billiton
BHP has announced that it would part with $12.1 billion in cash to acquire Petrohawk Energy
The sizable deal -- topped only by ExxonMobil's
I clearly didn't expect BHP's toehold to move up to waist-deep so quickly or at such a hefty price. However, CEO Marius Kloppers explained his willingness to pay a healthy premium for Petrohawk by predicting that his company can utilize its own moderate cost of capital to achieve less expensive and more rapid development of the American company's assets.
Kloppers' pair of likely back-to-back purchases in the U.S. shale world follows three non-energy swings and misses for the company. It first labored long and hard to acquire its fellow megaminer Rio Tinto
So it's looking like 2011 will be the year of U.S. energy success for the world's biggest minerals miner. In addition to its shopping spree amid shale plays, in March BHP received the second deepwater permit issued by the Interior Department following the resumption of activity after last year's Gulf well blowout and oil spill.
The action in shale player acquisitions is likely just picking up. And while we can all dream up more than a dozen potential targets, I'm inclined to start with Brigham Exploration
For now, a gander at BHP Billiton displays an inviting natural resources "twofer" -- the major domo in minerals mining and a progressively more active petroleum operator. That combo, it seems, is well worth the company's addition to your watchlist.