Global miner BHP Group could reap a gain of $9.5-billion this year from the sale of its petroleum arm to Woodside Energy Group, Australian brokerage Barrenjoey said.
The world's biggest listed miner last year agreed to combine its petroleum business with the company formerly known as Woodside Petroleum in a deal that would create a top 10 global independent oil and gas producer worth $40-billion.
The move advances BHP's efforts to move away from fossil fuels, while doubling Woodside's oil and gas production and beefing up its funding for growth.
"While BHP would have you believe its exit from oil & gas business was an economic decision, we suspect an element of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) was at play here," Barrenjoey said in the note dated Tuesday.
ESG issues have become the top concern of global miners, knocking out commodity price risk for the first time, according to a survey by KPMG.
BHP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Barrenjoey note.
The brokerage also cut the price target for BHP's shares to A$45 from A$51, while maintaining an "overweight" rating.