BHP Billiton Wins U.S. Approval for Rio Offer

BHP Billiton said Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have granted early termination of the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period for BHP Billiton’s proposed acquisition of Rio Tinto. The mining giant also said that the Antitrust Division of the DoJ has concluded its review without further action.

“We are very pleased that we have received notice of early termination of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act waiting period and completion of the Department of Justice merger review,” said Alberto Calderon BHP Billiton’s Chief Commercial Officer.

The end of the waiting period satisfied part of U.S. merger control preconditions for the proposed deal, BHP Billiton said in a statement. The offer remains subject to the pre-conditions, including that portion of the U.S. merger control pre-condition referring to certain actions that may be brought by the DoJ or FTC.

BHP Billiton is offering 3.4 of its shares for each Rio Tinto share, in a deal worth about $170 billion, The Associated Press reports.

Rio Tinto is resisting the offer, the AP reports.

Steelmaking companies in China and other countries have expressed concerns that a combined BHP Billiton-Rio Tinto company would have too much control over the price of key resources, the AP reports.

The proposal has drawn the attention of regulators in Australia, Europe, and the Americas. European Commission and Australian regulators are yet to announce their decisions.

The proposal also requires regulatory approval from regulators in the European Union, Australia, and South Africa, according to media reports.

Rio Tinto is comprised of two listed companies, Rio Tinto Plc, listed in the U.K. and Rio Tinto Ltd., listed in Australia. Rio Tinto mines coal, iron, copper, uranium, aluminum, gold, diamonds and other industrial minerals like borax, salt and talc. The company’s Australian and North American mining activities account for about three quarters of its sales. Rio Tinto has acquired Alcan Inc. of Canada.

The Melbourne-based BHP is the combined entity formed after the acquisition of U.K. miner Billiton Plc by Australian minerals and oil company BHP Ltd. in 2001. The company, with operations in six continents.