BHP Billiton buys into weatherXchange

Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton has bought a 7.5% stake in weatherXchange, an online weather derivatives data service, set up by the UK’s Meteorological Office and London-based Umbrella Brokers in June last year. BHP Billiton has an option to increase its stake to 15% within the next six months under the terms of the deal.

Weatherxchange, which is headed by Cindy Dawes, provides meteorological data to banks, energy firms and insurance companies that need the information to structure weather derivatives contracts. Although its focus is mostly European, it can provide data from 8,000 global sites.

“BHP Billiton is not only one of the world’s biggest natural resources producers, but also a significant shipper – both of which are activities susceptible to the weather,” said Dawes.

Dawes would not disclose weatherXchange client names, nor would she provide an estimation of weatherXchange’s market value. But she did tell RiskNews that the firm will expand to offer a weather risk management consultancy business within the next six months.

Unreliable and costly weather data has often been blamed for holding back the development of the European weather risk market. But firms such as weatherXchange and Californian-based Risk Management Solutions (RMS) aim to facilitate data collection by making met office data more accurate through filling in any holes in data sets. RMS counts French bank Société Général and US weather risk firm Element Re among its clients – two major players within European weather risk.

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