BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP) has hired Barclays PLC (BCS) and Citigroup (C) to help it in selling its U.S. shale oil and gas business, which could go for as much as $10 billion, Reuters reported.

The possible sale comes as activist investor Elliott Advisors, which holds a 5% stake in BHP, has urged the company to divest its U.S. petroleum business and end its dual listing in Britain and Australia to increase shareholder value.

BHP, which is the world's largest miner, said last week it would exit unconventional onshore shale assets at four locations it acquired in the height of the oil boom. It plans to keep conventional assets in the Gulf of Mexico, Australia and Trinidad and Tobago. BHP's entire petroleum business is valued at around $20 billion.

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