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BlackRock encouraged Anglo to extend talks with BHP, source says

FILE PHOTO: The BlackRock logo is pictured in New York City

By Mrinmay Dey

(Reuters) -Anglo American was encouraged by key shareholders including BlackRock to continue engaging in talks with BHP Group over its proposed 38.6 billion pound ($49.18 billion) mining merger, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Saturday.

BHP, the world's biggest listed mining group, now has until May 29 to make a firm bid for Anglo American or it will be forced to walk away for at least six months under the UK's takeover rules after it was granted a one-week extension on Wednesday.

BlackRock was among a handful of investors that encouraged meaningful negotiations with BHP, said the Financial Times, which reported the news first.

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Two other significant shareholders, Ninety One and Sanlam Investments, also backed the decision to extend talks, despite concerns about a deal structure that requires Anglo to spin off its stakes in its South African platinum and iron ore units, the newspaper added.

Ninety One and Sanlam Investments did not respond to a Reuters' request for comment.

U.S.-based asset manager BlackRock owns a 9.6% stake in Anglo, according to LSEG data, and is also a BHP shareholder.

BHP will stand firm on the structure and value of its latest takeover proposal, focusing instead on allaying its target's concerns around execution risks over the coming week, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The FT said that according to people familiar with BHP’s thinking, there was only scope for "smaller, creative structures to better share the risks".

However, people close to Anglo cited by the newspaper said the structure needs altering or BHP must pay more.

Anglo American declined to comment on the FT report, while BHP Group and BlackRock did not respond to requests for comment.

($1 = 0.7849 pounds)

(Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Diane Craft)