Germany may extend probe on iron ore JV plans

Soaring iron ore prices may cause a delay in the German Cartel Office findings on the planned merger of the iron ore production of BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Plc. Germany aims to complete its probe into the merger of the companies’ mining production by 31 July, timing the release of its conclusions with a European Commission assessment. Growing government concern over the price of iron ore, aired in a report to lawmakers may weigh on the timing of a decision. In a report to the parliament in Berlin, the government said the creation of a duopoly cornering 70% of global iron ore exports will worsen the situation of rising prices. The German steel industry, supplying carmakers and machine makers such as ThyssenKrupp AG, Siemens AG and Audi AG, may pay EUR 3 billion more for ore this year. The European Union and German antitrust investigations differ. Under EU rules, the joint production venture of BHP and Rio does not qualify as a full-function merger and is being assessed under general competition criteria. In German law, it adds up to a partial legal merger.

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