Brazil's Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world's largest iron-ore producer, secured European Union antitrust approval for its planned C$19.4 billion ($17.2 billion) purchase of Canadian nickel producer Inco Ltd.
The European Commission, the 25-nation EU's antitrust regulator in Brussels, gave ``unconditional clearance'' for Vale's cash bid of C$86 a share, Rio de Janeiro-based Vale said today in a statement. The offer expires at 8 p.m. Toronto time on Oct. 16.
Vale's takeover will bring an end to a nearly yearlong battle for Canada's nickel assets after Toronto-based Inco proposed to acquire Falconbridge Ltd. on Oct. 11. Falconbridge shareholders instead accepted an all-cash bid from Swiss miner Xstrata Plc (XTA) in July, rejecting a three-way deal with Inco and Phelps Dodge Corp. Inco, the world's second-largest nickel producer, was left with Vale's offer after Vancouver-based Teck Cominco Ltd. and Phelps withdrew their competing offers.
``We're disappointed,'' John Kinsey, who helps manage $800 million at Caldwell Securities Ltd. in Toronto including Inco stock, said in an interview. ``We think that Inco really blew it. The Inco-Falconbridge combination would have been a great company, but it wasn't in the works, so you have to move on.''
Vale extended its offer on Sept. 25 to allow more time for Canada's Industry Minister Maxime Bernier and the EU to review the bid. Vale said on that date that Bernier had extended his review by 30 days, although he may rule before then.
Nickel is used in batteries and to prevent corrosion in stainless steel.
Shares of Inco rose 22 cents to C$85.56 at 4:15 p.m. on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock has risen 64 percent in the past year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Newman in Brussels at Mnewman6@bloomberg.net.
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