A promotional sign adorns a stage at a BHP Billiton function in central Sydney

London - BHP Billiton on Wednesday night at loggerheads with Elliott after rejecting plans to overhaul the business.

The New York hedge fund this week launched a stinging attack on the Anglo-Australian mining and petroleum company, saying it was significantly under performing. The 4.1 percent  shareholder put forward plans it said could help the company unlock up to £36.8 billion of value.

It called for its US petroleum business to be split off and a more ‘consistent’ capital return policy.

BHP hit back Wednesday saying: ‘The costs and associated disadvantages of each element of Elliot’s proposal would significantly outweigh the potential benefits.’ But as the war of words intensified, Elliott said BHP bosses had ‘missed the main point’.

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It added: ‘We put forward a set of proposals designed to reverse the company’s significant under performance, fix the obsolete group structure, and optimise value for shareholders. The company’s answer, do nothing.’