BHP Billiton partners with St Bart's to revive Pilbara region
A joint venture between mining giant BHP Billiton and the Perth-based charity St. Bartholomew’s House (St Bart’s) is preparing to build a new $30 million shopping centre in the Western Australia Pilbara region small town of Newman. As Business Review Australia previously reported, BHP had planned to expand its iron ore operations in Pilbara.
But not long after BHP was forced to cut 170 jobs at the nearby Mt Whaleback mine, this will be the company’s largest single-community investment ever made in Australia. The drop in iron ore price had caused industry leaders to find ways to diversify the area’s economy, and make it less dependent on the mining sector.
Along with an additional $40 million from the state government to support the infrastructure, the new shopping centre could do wonders for the city’s local economy. Another objective of the new project is it will share its profits with charities, which is expected to be a six-figure sum each year. This type of partnership between a corporation and not-for-profit organisation is very rare.
The partnership should improve the liveability of Newman, which has a population of about 7,000 and was originally established by a subsidiary of BHP in 1968. The shopping centre is expected to provide local residents with more variety of retail and dining options, which will help Newman become more attractive for BHP employees who work at the company’s nearby iron ore mines.
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“The main beneficiary of this will be the Newman community,” said St Bart’s CEO John Berger. “We want to capture things, like bringing employment into the town and the benefits it’s creating, through to how the profits are being used and how they’re improving the capacity of the town to be self-sustaining.
“I take my hat off to BHP for wanting to enter into this sort of partnership. They could have kept it in-house. They have a passion for the township of Newman, a commitment to make sure it’s a vibrant township, and they looked for a partnership to achieve that outcome.”
BHP iron ore division chief Jimmy Wilson said BHP spent $275 million on community projects in Pilbara over the last five years, and expects to maintain its investment despite the concern of the iron ore market.
RELATED TOPIC: Iron Ore & Coal Out, Oil & Gas In As Focus for BHP Billiton
Meanwhile, St Bart’s is a mid-sized non-profit that has been operating for over 50 years, with its main goal to help prevent homelessness in the Perth area. According to Berger, one of the keys to success in corporate partnerships is finding common ground between the core values of a certain project and the organisations going into it. At this point, it certainly appears the two sides have been able to do that.
The new retail facility will be located in the new Town Centre, and will include 4,500 square metres of retail space. Construction of the project will begin this year.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.