(Bloomberg) -- Unable to press his target to the negotiating table, BHP Group boss Mike Henry on Wednesday walked away from a bold bid to buy smaller rival Anglo American Plc, cheering investors eager for proof the miner will not pursue deals at any cost.

Henry was forced to abandon his audacious takeover plan to create a global copper giant after Anglo swatted away repeated approaches from the world’s biggest miner during a five-week saga. A successful conclusion to the $49 billion all-share attempt would have been the industry’s biggest deal in more than a decade, but BHP’s Australian shareholders saw good news in the failure.

“I’m surprised, in a positive way,” said Jun Bei Liu, portfolio manager at Tribeca Investment Partners in Sydney. “What they have done is demonstrated price discipline, and it’s actually welcome.” 

BHP’s bid transfixed a mining sector that’s seen a long drought of merger activity. Burned by overpaying for assets during previous price booms, mining bosses have for years shied away from the kind of mega-deals that Henry put back on the table.

Read More: BHP Abandons $49 Billion Bid After Anglo Refuses More Talks

While investors recognized the strategic logic in BHP taking over Anglo for the latter’s top-tier copper mines in South America, there were immediate concerns about the deal’s complexity — and the risk that Henry could go too far to clinch a career-defining takeover. 

“I would have loved the deal to proceed, but am happy with BHP showing restraint and discipline in dealing with a reluctant suitor,” Matthew Haupt, portfolio manager at Wilson Asset Management in Sydney — which holds BHP — said by phone. 

Shares in BHP fell as much as 2% in Sydney before closing 1.7% lower, as the market digested what had come to seem a likely outcome.

Anglo had repeatedly rebuffed proposals from BHP to partly break up and then acquire the 107-year-old company, but last week agreed to extend the cutoff to allow for talks. Early on Wednesday in London, BHP published more details of how it would allay concerns over the deal’s complexity, but Anglo was unmoved and BHP had little choice but to drop its proposal ahead of a UK regulatory deadline later in the day. 

Long Game

A combined BHP-Anglo entity would have had a 10% share of global copper production — surpassing rivals at a time when miners are scrambling for more exposure to the metal. Analysts say copper is heading for many years of tight supply that will push up prices, and the metal’s rally to a record earlier in May lent a colorful backdrop to BHP’s bid.

“I do think near term, if anything, there’s potential downside for copper, so I think there’s downside for Anglo’s share price,” Tribeca’s Liu said. BHP is “playing the long-term game” and may come back with the same bid in six months time, she said.

Takeover rules require BHP to stay away for six months unless Anglo receives a rival bid. Anglo will have to press ahead with its own plan to revive its fortunes by exiting diamonds, coal and platinum.

“While we believe an acquisition of Anglo would be a longer-term positive for BHP, the fact that BHP is being disciplined in its approach is a near-term positive for its shares,” Jefferies analyst Christopher LaFemina wrote in an emailed note.

--With assistance from Martin Ritchie.

(Updates with comments in 10th paragraph.)

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