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No changes to Rio Tinto deal: new Chinalco chief
Updated: 2009-02-27 20:04

The new president of Chinalco said China's State-owned metals company was sticking to the terms of a $19.5 billion investment in Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto, despite an outcry from key institutional investors.

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"We believe Rio is capable of making, and will make, a reasonable explanation to its investors and will play an active role in doing so," Xiong Weiping said on Friday at his first news conference after taking the helm of the company eight days ago.

"The Australian government will also review the deal under the relevant laws. We haven't received any requests to renegotiate any details."

Sources have said Rio Tinto faces an uphill battle to persuade shareholders to back a tie-up with Chinalco that would help it pay down its huge debt.

Chinalco, China's top aluminium maker, agreed this month to pay $12.3 billion for stakes in Rio's key iron ore, copper and aluminium assets and $7.2 billion for convertible notes that could potentially double its equity stake in Rio to 18 percent.

There is speculation Australia might block the deal, fearing Beijing would have too much influence over a major export earner.

Xiong, who plans to fly to Australia on Saturday, said Chinalco would fund its latest Rio deal with loans from commercial and state banks.

He said Chinalco planned to finalise its funding for the investment by end of March.

Xiong promised to stick to his predecessor's strategy for Chinalco to turn the firm into an internationally competitive group.

His predecessor Xiao Yaqing will be promoted to be a deputy secretary general of China's Cabinet with responsibility for coordinating departments working on industrial policy, according to local media reports.

Chinalco's other main interest is its controlling stake in aluminium company Chalco which, along with the rest of the global aluminium sector, is struggling against oversupply, low prices and weak demand.

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