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Europe Blocks BHP Billiton-Rio Tinto Deal
The American Lawyer
Last week, the Am Law Daily reported on Japan's quixotic attempt to convince the European Union to block the proposed merger between mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.
Well, European antitrust authorities might have been listening. They objected to the deal on Tuesday, saying it cannot proceed as planned, according to the New York Times. That leaves BHP's antitrust lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom with the job of altering the deal to make it more palatable to authorities. The European Commission did not disclose its findings, but experts believe BHP will have to divest itself of some assets so that the combined company won't have too much control over iron ore and other key raw materials, according to both the Times and The Age in Australia.
U.S. and Australian antitrust authorities have already approved the deal.
Japan's concerns surrounded iron ore, since its steel companies rely on BHP and Rio Tinto for about 60 percent of the key ingredient in steel.
Japan's own regulatory authority is also reviewing the deal, according to the Nikkei English News (via Bloomberg), but it likely has no authority to block it.
The merger between the world's largest and third-largest mining companies, both Anglo-Australian ventures, was originally valued at $165 billion but may have dropped to as little as $70 billion as the stock prices of both parties have plunged, according to Reuters.
Skadden's antitrust team has declined to comment on the proceedings.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.