China's report on failed Chinalco bid clears Australia, Rio, not BHP

The Chinese government's probe into Chinalco's failed $19.5-billion planned investment with Anglo Australian mining company Rio Tinto last year, has ruled that neither the Australian government nor Rio Tinto Group were responsible for the failure of the deal going through.

But the report did point a finger at Rio Tinto's arch rival BHP Billiton for lobbying to torpedo the deal. it said that Chinalco and Rio Tinto did not expect a broad Australian backlash against the deal that was largely because of the huge but discreet media and government relations campaign and behind-the-scenes games orchestrated by rival BHP Billiton.

The report faulted the failure of the deal to the rapid recovery of the world resources market, including the recovery of the stock market, which was beyond everyone's expectations.

Stephen Joske, a former Australian Treasury official until July last year, who left Canberra to join the Economist Intelligence Unit in Beijing said in October that BHP had conducted a covert lobbying operation to torpedo Chinalco's investment in Rio Tinto. (See: BHP Billiton lobbied to torpedo Chinalco-Rio Tinto deal)

BHP's operation was to undermine Chinalco in retaliation against the Chinese company for earlier having teamed up with Alcoa to thwart BHP's attempt to acquire Rio Tinto in February 2008 by amasing 12 per cent of Rio Tinto London shares for $14 billion. (See: Chinalco, Alcoa acquire 12 per cent blocking stake in Rio Tinto for $14 billion)

In February 2009, China's state-owned Chinalco had said that it would invest $19.5 billion in debt-ridden mining giant Rio Tinto, which would have been the biggest Chinese investment ever in a foreign company. (See: Chinalco invests $19.5 billion in Rio Tinto to raise stake to 18 per cent)