Rohan Sullivan / AP
Sydney: BHP Billiton formalized its unwelcome takeover bid for Rio Tinto on Wednesday, 6 February, and raised the stakes with an all-share offer worth $147.4 billion (€100.35 billion, Rs5.8 trillion) that would create a global mining monolith.
Rio Tinto, which rejected an initial approach from BHP Billiton last year as too low, said it would consider the new offer, and urged its shareholders not to act hastily.
BHP Billiton is offering 3.4 of its shares for every one Rio Tinto share, an increase from the initial informal proposal of three-for-one, the Melbourne-based company said. The offer applies to both companies in the Rio Tinto Group, the Australian-listed company Rio Tinto Ltd. and British-listed Rio Tinto PLC.
BHP Billiton is already the world’s largest diversified mining company, and Rio Tinto, the third-largest. Analysts say if the deal succeeds it would be the biggest takeover in the mining sector and one of the biggest ever in the corporate world.
BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers talks at the company’s interim results briefing in Sydney 6 February 6. Analysts say BHP’s new offer may be more attractive to Rio Tinto, but may still not be enough to secure the deal.
Steelmakers in China, Japan and Europe have protested BHP Billiton’s bid, saying a takeover would give it too much influence over global iron ore supplies and pricing.
The deal would be subject to regulatory approvals in Australia, the US, Europe and elsewhere, and to 50% shareholder approval, BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers said.
He said the proposed merger would deliver efficiency benefits worth $3.7 billion (€2.5 billion) a year and raise the value of shareholdings in both companies.
“I believe there is widespread support for the compelling logic of the proposal to combine the companies,” Kloppers told a briefing for reporters and analysts in Sydney.
Rio Tinto chairman Paul Skinner said the company would carefully consider BHP Billiton’s latest offer, and asked shareholders not to take any action yet.
“The boards of Rio Tinto will consider the terms of the proposal carefully in the light of all circumstances and will make a further statement once they have completed this assessment,” Skinner said. “In the meantime, the boards encourage shareholders not to take any action.”
Analysts said BHP Billiton’s new offer would be more attractive to Rio Tinto than the earlier bid, but may still not be enough to secure the deal.
“It’s a good starting point, it should get Rio to the negotiating table,” Rob Patterson, managing director of Argo Investments, told Dow Jones Newswires.
BHP Billiton valued its latest offer at $147.4 billion using Monday’s closing share price. The theoretical value of the all-share swap changes daily, and is further complicated because BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are both listed separately in Sydney and London.
Last week, Aluminum Corp. of China and Alcoa Inc. bought a 12% stake in Rio Tinto’s London-listed stock, which equated to a 9% stake in the whole group.
Kloppers said the development was interesting, but that BHP Billiton could proceed with its offer without the support of the new stakeholders.
The purchase by state-owned Aluminum Corp. of China, known as Chinalco, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Alcoa followed rumours that some Chinese entity might try to block BHP Billiton’s takeover bid for Rio Tinto.
Chinalco president Xiao Yaqing said this week his company and Alcoa had no intention of raising their stake in Rio Tinto, though they reserved the right to participate in a takeover offer within the next six months.
He suggested Chinalco might be prepared to sell its stake in Rio Tinto as part of a BHP bid “if the return is attractive.”