Rio Chief Says BHP Proposal "Dead in the Water"

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese said on Friday BHP Billiton's $140 billion takeover proposal to assemble super mining house was now "dead in the water."

Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto

Albanese also said Rio had been approached with offers from other suitors since BHP tabled its plans last month, but was sticking with its independent growth strategy.

A BHP and Rio combination would hold about 27 percent of the world market for iron ore and control much of the global flow of aluminum, coal, copper, uranium and diamonds.

"There just wasn't enough value, so it is dead in the water," Albanese told CNBC television.

The comments pushed Rio's Australian stock down about half a percent to A$144.02. BHP shares rose 0.7 percent and the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.9 percent.

BHP made public its offer of three of its shares for each Rio share on Nov. 8, after the Rio board refused to pursue friendly merger talks.

Albanese stopped short of saying Rio was not for sale at any price, but reiterated that the BHP proposal was " a couple of ballparks away" in terms of an attractive offer price. "I wouldn't want to speculate, but it's going to take a lot," Albanese said when asked at what price would the board entertain an offer.

From the onset Albanese has said BHP's proposal significantly undervalued Rio's operations and growth prospects.

Having completed its $38 billion friendly takeover of Canadian aluminium group Alcan, Rio would now turn more toward organic growth, Albanese said. "Organically, we can do great things," he said.

With Alcan in its fold and increases elsewhere in the company's production chains, Rio will be able to corner more of the China's demand for the metal, Albanese said.

The Chinese last year consumed about a quarter of the world's aluminium, he said.

"This year they are consuming 30 percent of the world's aluminium and it just keeps going," Albanese said.

Blueprints had been drawn up for a tripling of iron ore production, while its copper business was also getting bigger, Albanese said.

Speculation that other parties may want to buy Rio was reinforcing the value of Rio's operations, Albanese said. "Lots of people have been calling, but we have not been engaging," he said.

China's top steel group, Baosteel, has doused speculation it was planning to spoil BHP Billiton's takeover bid with a $200 billion offer of its own, saying it lacks the financial muscle.