Taking Rio back to the future

Rio Tinto once prided itself on the quality of its transaction evaluation. After the disastrous decisions to buy Alcan and Riversdale, Sam Walsh appears determined the mining major is as diligent in the future as it once was.

How a company responds to a major mistake can provide telling insights into why it believed it made the mistake. The Rio Tinto annual report provides a glimpse into its perception of the cause of the breakdown in processes that claimed the scalp of former chief executive Tom Albanese.

Just over a year ago, Albanese and the much-respected executive who oversaw the ill-fated acquisition of the Mozambique coal miner, Riversdale Mining, fell on their swords after Rio was forced to write-off $US3 billion of the $US4bn purchase price.

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