EU regulators drop Rio Tinto antitrust case

BRUSSELS Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:51am EST

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union regulators dropped an investigation into metals company Rio Tinto Alcan on Thursday, saying they were satisfied with commitments made by the firm to ensure it does not favor subsidiaries when purchasing supplies.

The ruling means the European Commission, the EU's antitrust authority, will impose no penalty against the firm.

"Rio Tinto Alcan's commitments will open up the market for equipment used in aluminum smelters. As a result, the customers of aluminum technology and equipment will have more choice," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

The EU launched its investigation into the unit of Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto over concerns that its tying of sales of its own smelting technology to plans to buy specialty equipment may have breached EU rules.

Rio Tinto Alcan offered to provide flexible licensing terms to rivals to end the investigation and avert a possible fine.

(Reporting By Ethan Bilby; editing by Luke Baker)