Jilted China slates BHP's Rio marriage

<!--StartFragment--> CHINA slammed the proposed tie-up between mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton yesterday, saying it had &ldquo;a strong monopolistic flavour,&rdquo; and threatened to use its new antitrust laws to derail the venture.<br /><br />&ldquo;The deal between Rio and BHP should be subject to Chinese anti-monopoly law,&rdquo; the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said.<br /><br />According to China&rsquo;s anti-monopoly law, all business combinations that have dealings with the state must be cleared by the ministry if the global revenue of the firms involved exceed 10bn yuan (&pound;1bn) or 2bn yuan in China.<br /><br />It added that, if the tie-up was found to be monopolist, China would seek to ensure Chinese firms had a bigger say in iron ore pricing talks.<br /><br />BHP and Rio are the world&rsquo;s second and third-biggest producers of iron ore &ndash; steel&rsquo;s key ingredient. Together they supply 75 per cent of China&rsquo;s iron ore imports from their vast, adjacent operations in Australia&rsquo;s Pilbara region.<br /><br />Rio Tinto scrapped its $19.5bn (&pound;13.6bn) deal with Chinese metals group Chinalco two weeks ago in the face of investor pressure and instead raised $21bn via a rights issue and announced the iron ore joint venture with BHP.<br /><br />To cut regulatory problems, the firms say they will independently sell the ore produced as part of the deal.<br /><br />The news comes as the communist powerhouse issued a &ldquo;buy China&rdquo; decree as part of a &pound;400bn government stimulus package. The order will fuel tensions between East and West as accusations of protectionism are bandied about in the downturn. <!--EndFragment-->