Clifford Chance and AAR steer Rio Tinto’s joint venture with Chinalco

Australian firm Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR) took a place opposite Clifford Chance on a deal that will see mining giant Rio Tinto join forces with Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco) to explore mainland China in search of mineral deposits.

Scott Langford
Scott Langford

Clifford Chance led the advice to Chinalco, with London corporate partner Kathy Honeywood and ­Beijing partner Tim Wang at the helm.

AAR Melbourne partner Scott Langford led the team acting for longstanding client Rio Tinto, with ­Beijing head and special counsel Frank Fan also ­playing a prominent role.

Under the terms of the deal Chinalco will hold a 51 per cent interest in the joint venture, which will operate under the name Chinalco Rio Tinto Exploration ­Company, with Rio Tinto holding the remainder.

While the deal is still ­subject to Chinese regulatory approval, Langford said it was significant as it strengthens Rio Tinto’s position in China while developing the relationship between the companies.

“This agreement draws on the strengths of both organisations because it combines Rio Tinto’s expertise with Chinalco’s deep understanding of the Chinese exploration ­environment,” he added.

This is the third major transaction that Clifford Chance has guided Chinalco through. In 2008 it advised the company when it acquired 12 per cent of Rio Tinto’s shares, with the ­latter company being advised by Linklaters.

Last year Clifford Chance advised the Chinese ­company on a proposed $19.5bn (£11.9bn) partnership with Rio Tinto, again opposite Linklaters. That deal fell apart when Rio Tinto decided to walk away.

Honeywood led the ­Clifford Chance team on both transactions.