Rio says no 'final decisions' on BHP iron ore venture

6th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Mining giant Rio Tinto Wednesday said it had not made "any final decisions" on its massive iron ore joint venture with BHP Billiton after Australian media reported the deal had collapsed.

However, the Anglo-Australian company said "potential obstacles" to the controversial merger of Rio and BHP's Australian iron ore operations had been discussed at a board meeting on Monday.

"The Rio Tinto board has not made any final decisions about possible outcomes or next steps relating to the proposed Rio Tinto/BHP Billiton iron ore production joint venture in Western Australia," Rio said in a statement.

"The board acknowledged recent communications from regulators that indicate potential obstacles to achieving clearance for the joint venture," it added, citing negotiations with Japan, South Korea, the European Commission and Australia.

Fairfax newspapers Wednesday reported sources close to the board had said Rio was preparing to inform BHP, the world's biggest miner and a former takeover suitor, of its decision.

"They can't object to that (decision)," Rio chairman Jan du Plessis, was quoted as telling fellow directors.

"That's kind of us stating our investment preference. They will no doubt have their own measurements and I think that's fine."

The report said Rio now opposed the deal because of its improving financial performance and objections from shareholders, as well as a feeling that its terms favoured BHP.

© 2010 AFP

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