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BHP wins first round in previously unknown A$87M legal battle over Singapore hub

BHP Billiton Group successfully convinced a tribunal that its dual-listed Australian and British companies are not associates, in an unreported A$87 million legal battle with the Australian Taxation Office over the company's controversial Singapore marketing hub, The Australian reported May 10.

The legal proceedings are separate from the previously disclosed fight over more than A$1 billion in tax bills levied on BHP's earnings from the operation.

In addition, the Queensland government is billing the mining heavyweight for A$329 million in coking coal royalties and interest related to the use of the marketing hub. A BHP appeal over the assessments will be heard in the Queensland Supreme Court later this month.

BHP is trying to fight the ATO's assertion that the company's British arm, BHP Billiton PLC, must also pay tax on 58% of the income it reaps from the sales of Australian goods, primarily coal from its Hunter Valley operations, through Singapore.

According to the report, the Singapore office is 58%-owned by the Australian arm of the mining giant, with the British arm holding the remaining 42%. The said marketing hub is a branch of BHP Billiton Marketing, a Swiss company owned by a Dutch firm.