Rio Tinto: Takeover Fears and Price Negotiations with China
In the negotiated year 2005/2006, Brazilian iron ore giant Vale, negotiated a 71% price increase with its Chinese customers. For the same period, Australian BHP asked for a premium reflecting the freight cost differentials between shipping iron ore to China from Australia versus Brazil. This demand was later dropped due to strong opposition from Chinese steelmakers. In the negotiated year 2007/2008, following price increases of 65-71% negotiated by Vale, the other Australian Iron ore giant, Rio Tinto, demanded and obtained a premium that saw the total increase in prices reach 200% from the previous year. This case analyses the motivations behind these price negotiations in the light of BHP's intended hostile takeover of Rio Tinto, which would result not only in a combined market share of almost 40% in the production of traded iron ore but a monopoly in the supply of Australian iron ores. This case can be used in business classes, negotiation and strategy as will provide students with different aspects of the negotiation process. Issues such as hostile takeovers, pricing, market share and business relations are discussed in this case.