It has been a year to forget for investors in BHP Billiton Ltd, one of the largest companies by value listed on the Australian stock exchange, with its revenues falling on declining iron ore prices, battling an environmental disaster in Brazil and witness to a fall in its share price by a third during 2015.

Superannuation funds, large and small, appear to have little choice but to persist with their holdings in BHP due to a lack of other investment options and the fact that the company represents about 8% of the total market capitalisation of the ASX. AustralianSuper chairwoman Heather Ridout (also a member of the board of the Reserve Bank) recently commented that:

On the coal issue, we have a sustainability option that screens out coal, but not our balanced option because if you screen out coal, you’d have to screen out BHP Billiton from your ¦.balanced fund, how do you do that? How does that work for investments in Australia? [It’s] very, very awkward.

In contrast, a product of the iron ore rich Roper River country, artist Gertie Huddleston achieved a record price in the March 2015 Deutscher and Hackett sale of the Laverty collection.

The identity of the buyer of the Huddleston painting is not known; however AustralianSuper could have purchased the artwork and displayed it in its offices – unlike a self-managed fund, which under current legislation would have little choice but to bubble-wrap and store this delightful painting out of sight.

Gertie Huddleston (dec)
Ngukurr Landscape (1998)
179.5 x 128.0 cm
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Sold by Deutscher and Hackett for $21,000 (including buyer’s premium) on 8 March 2015, a record price for the artist

(Gertie Huddleston became a senior member of Ngukurr Artists when it opened around 2000, and before this was represented by Karen Brown and Alcaston.)

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