The world's biggest miner BHP Billiton has responded to a deadline from British authorities on its proposed takeover bid for Rio Tinto by saying it is still seeking discussions with its rival.
BHP Billiton said it was aware of a UK Takeover Panel Executive ruling that it must either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Rio Tinto or state that it does not intend to make an offer for the miner by February 6.
The ruling, given Friday, came after Rio Tinto successfully invoked Britain's so-called "put up or shut up" laws, which allow a company to put a time limit on potential buyers to clarify their position during a takeover bid.
Rio Tinto has roundly rejected BHP Billiton's offer of three BHP shares for each Rio share, saying it significantly undervalues the company.
In a statement issued Saturday, BHP Billiton said it was still seeking to win over Rio Tinto to its argument that the takeover would bring benefits to shareholders in both companies.
But it said it still had not decided on whether to proceed with the bid.
"BHP Billiton is considering its options in light of the deadline set by the Panel Executive but no decision has yet been taken on this matter," the statement said.
"Accordingly, there can be no assurance that BHP Billiton will progress its proposal to Rio Tinto or that any offer for Rio Tinto will be made.
"BHP Billiton continues to seek to engage in discussions with Rio Tinto with a view to obtaining the support and recommendation of the Board of Rio Tinto for its proposal."
A merger between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, the world's third biggest miner, would create the planet's largest producer of coking coal, thermal coal, copper and aluminium.