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Rio-BHP venture in Australia still a live issue: Rio CEO

10-12-2010 08:49 BJT

CANBERRA, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Australian Rio Tinto Chief Executive Sam Walsh on Monday said a potential iron ore joint venture with BHP Billiton is still a live issue, following a recent report claiming Rio Tinto was poised to abandon the tie-up.

The future of the 310 million tonne a year iron ore joint venture would be responsible for one third of global iron ore exports, if it receives regulatory approvals from Japan, South Korea, the European Union, Australia, Germany and Taiwan.

However, industry participants increasingly expected the deal to be dropped by the end of the year, as both companies focus on more promising prospects elsewhere.

"It doesn't mean it's impossible. It doesn't mean it's easy. What we have got to assess is the value of the deal against the dislocation or whatever of any potential comments from the regulators," Walsh told Dow Jones Newswires at a conference in Brisbane on Monday, added that the joint venture is "still a live issue".

"It's a huge prize here, 10 billion U.S. dollars-odd in synergies. You don't walk away until you have actually given it the very best go."

Fairfax reported last Tuesday that, based on leaks from Rio Tinto management, the 120 billion U.S. dollars tie-up, the biggest merger in Australian history, was on the brink of collapse.

Walsh, one of four executive directors on Rio Tinto's 14-member board, said the leak seemed to be part of an attempt to influence the outcome of the deal.

"None of that's clear, in terms of what exactly happened," he said. "I think people are trying to influence the outcome" of the deal.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Xinhua

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