This helped my decision: Today BBL price is $51.69 but BHP price is $58.44. Cake topping is that both pay $2.28 dividend. As a percentage of purchase price, BBL is 4.5% while BHP is only 4%. BBL is thus the better choice especially knowing they are the exact same company!
As I posted above, BBL dividends are not taxed by England, but BHP dividends are taxed by Austrialia. As an American owner of shares, we pay Austrialian taxes on dividends received. Notice the share price differences between BBL and BHP. I don't understand why if they are really one company.
Because the two companies (BHP.AX and BLT.L; US ADR's: BHP and BBL)) operate as if merged, same assets, same employees, same officers, same board members, combined income, same dividend. All explained on BHP Ltd's website.
Looked all over their website but did not find an explanation of the rationale (i.e. business reason) for the arrangement. You say the two entities 'operate as if merged with same [not shared] assets, employees, [etc]'. Well is BHP Billiton a single business entity or not (RE: "operate AS IF merged")? It almost sounds like they're setting up to divest each other and that makes me nervous. Do you know of any other such situations ?