German regulator investigates BHP, Rio joint venture

The German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) has launched an investigation into the planned $130 billion iron ore joint venture between mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, according to a posting at the regulator's website today.

The start of the German investigation comes after the Brussels-based European Commission (EC) launched its own probe late last month. (See: EU regulator investigates Rio, BHP iron ore venture)

The German Federal Cartel Office said that it would carry out the investigation in unison with the EC, but Germany is the only country to have publicly announced that it would review the BHP-Rio deal.

The Bundeskartellamt said that it would give its decision by 25 May, which could be extended if it chooses to conduct an in-depth review and able to get all the relevant information to arrive at a conclusion.

Other anti-trust regulators in Australia and Japan have also started an investigation into the BHP-Rio planned joint venture.

After terminating its $19.5-billion planned deal with Chinese resources giant Chinalco, the world's second-largest iron ore miner Rio Tinto joined hands with the third-largest iron ore miner BHP Billiton for an iron ore 50:50 production joint venture encompassing all current and future Western Australian iron ore assets and liabilities from combining the companies' Western Australian Pilbara region iron ore operations. (See: Rio-BHP team up for mining venture)