WikiLeaks cable points to BHP lobbying against Rio deal – report

11th December 2010 By: Liezel Hill

TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – A WikiLeaks cable indicates that BHP Billiton tried to sabotage a proposed investment by China's Chinalco in rival Rio Tinto, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The cables sent from Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan's chief of staff to US officials describe how BHP "played its cards with consummate skill" in lobbying the government to delay a decision on a deal between Rio Tinto and Chinalco,” the ABC report said.

In February 2009, Chinalco agreed to invest $19,5-billion in Rio Tinto and its operations to obtain an 18% stake in the world's third-biggest mining company, which at the time was battling to shift debt.

But Rio broke off the deal in June, opting instead for a big rights issue and a since-scrapped iron-ore joint venture in Australia with BHP.

The Chinalco agreement had followed an earlier failed hostile takeover bid by BHP Billiton for Rio Tinto.