On December 22, 2007 the JFTC revealed that it entered into discussions with the European Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to evaluate an acquisition by international mining firm BHB Billiton of rival Rio Tinto. The JFTC was concerned that the acquisition would restrain competition in Japan’s market for ironstone. According to press reports, it is the first time that the JFTC has requested a consultation about a foreign merger from foreign antitrust agencies.
Under the 1998 amendment to the Antimonopoly Act of Japan, the JFTC may review corporate transactions between foreign companies and issue cease-and-desist orders to prevent transactions that would harm competition in Japan’s market. In this case, the JFTC sought consultations with a foreign competition agency because there was no guarantee that the parties would comply with an order by Japan’s competition authority blocking the transaction. It has been reported that the JFTC is considering similar consultations with competition agencies in Korea and Taiwan where there are significant imports of ironstone from BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.