Delay on Rio/Chinalco review

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) is expected to take a further 90 days to evaluate Chinalco's proposed $30 billion deal with Rio Tinto.

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) is expected to take a further 90 days to evaluate Chinalco’s proposed $30 billion deal with Rio Tinto.

The deal’s initial 30 day review period expires today, and it has been widely assumed that FIRB would take the extra 90 days to scrutinise the deal given its scale and complexity.

If the deal is approved by FIRB, it is expected Rio shareholders will gather in the middle of the year to vote on whether Chinalco will take its 18% stake in the company.

FIRB will also soon have to make similar decisions about other foreign investment deals with Australian mining companies.

The original evaluation period for Minmetals’ $2.6 billion takeover offer of OZ Minerals expires this week, while Hunan Valin Iron and Steel’s offer to buy 17.4% of Fortescue Metals will be up for further review later this month.

Industry speculation suggests that the Rio Tinto/Chinalco deal will receive the most scrutiny, given its status as the most high-profile case of the three.

“In this case there is a general reticence for a BHP or Rio Tinto to be taken over by a Chinese firm,” Monash University foreign investment researched Paul Kalfadellis, told Fairfax.

“OZ and Fortescue are not as high-profile. They are not that much in the public eye as a BHP or a Rio Tinto.”

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