These are known as Dual Listed Companies. Each agreement creating a
dual listed company is slightly different. The BHP Billiton website
provides information on their companies.
?What is the difference between BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc?
BHP Billiton was formed in June 2001 from the merger of BHP Limited
(an Australian listed company) and Billiton Plc (a UK listed company).
The merger was effected by way of a dual listed companies (DLC)
structure, meaning that although the companies technically continue to
be separate legal entities (now renamed BHP Billiton Limited and BHP
Billiton Plc) with separate share listings and share registers, they
are managed and run as a single economic entity. The companies have a
common Board of Directors and management team. Shareholders in BHP
Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc have equal economic and voting
rights, as if they held shares in a single company.?
You will find detailed information on Dual Listed Companies on this
Reserve Bank of Australia Bulletin. You will find BHP discussed at
length and the reasons for two companies.
?BHP was the second Australian company to enter into a DLC structure
when it merged with Billiton, a UK/South African firm, in June 2001.
The reasons cited for choosing the DLC structure were similar to those
cited in the Rio Tinto case, including taxation and accounting
benefits. The voting rights and dividend payments in BHP Billiton are
now divided 60/40 between the shareholders of BHP and Billiton,
You may find these site also of use.
Australian Securities & Investments Commision
Dual Listed Companies
As for which one to invest it would depend on which company would be
most advantageous in your location and tax position.
I hope this answers your question. If it does not, or the answer is
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BHP Billiton shareholder information
dual listed companies