The sad truth is that Rio Tinto, the second biggest company in the Australian mining industry, is crippled and if BHP Billiton had taken it over if too would be a threatened species.
There was a rather harsh assessment of the troubles confronting Rio in the London Daily Telegraph just before Christmas with the comapny described as sinking under a huge $39bn debt pile. The debt was created, said the paper, to finance the $38bn Alan deal - a deal that will never ever, create value for shareholders.
What is truly troubling is the inability of the management of Rio to concede that there was anything wrong with the Alcan purchase. The chief executive Tom Albanese told the Toronto Globe and Mail this week that "I think, again, creating without exception the world's leading aluminium company is something that I'm proud of, what I've seen go on over the past 12 months."