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Rio Tinto Alcan’s Offer to End Antitrust Probe Accepted by EU

Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. will modify contracts for aluminum smelting to end a European Union antitrust probe over tying its technologies to sales of smelting equipment.

“Rio Tinto Alcan’s commitments will open up the market for equipment used in aluminum smelters,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in an e-mailed statement today. “As a result, the customers of aluminum technology and equipment will have more choice.”

EU regulators accepted Montreal-based Rio Tinto Alcan’s pledge today, ending an investigation into its contracts for licensing so-called AP aluminum smelting technology. Rio Tinto Alcan will now allow licensees to choose any supplier of pot-tending assemblies that meet certain technical requirements.

An EU settlement avoids any decision on whether a company broke antitrust rules. Rio Tinto Alcan, a unit of Rio Tinto Group, can be fined as much as 10 percent of its yearly revenue if it breaks the terms of the legally binding settlement.

Rio Tinto Group agreed to acquire aluminum maker Alcan Inc. for $38 billion in 2007. The EU investigation focused on Alcan’s practices and those of Rio Tinto Alcan after the takeover.

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