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Going, going, going, gone...

Tired of Perth? Well, why not re-name the joint. How about Shell City, in honour of the company which will soon have a stranglehold on the State’s oil and gas industry.

Or Rio on the Swan, to recognise another multi-national which is seeking to own all of WA’s iron ore industry.

Flippant suggestions these may seem, but accurate they are when it comes to describing Perth’s exposure to the full blast of globalisation.

Shell, for readers from another planet, is the world’s biggest oil company.

It is busy trying to acquire control of Woodside Petroleum, using an acquisition technique masterminded by certain Sicilian gentlemen.

They are making offers which Woodside will find very hard to refuse.

Rio Tinto, the world’s biggest miner, has adopted a blunter approach.

It is splashing around the cash for North Ltd, controlling shareholder in the Robe River joint venture.

Rio also still covets BHP’s iron ore division.

The cash from Rio will be as hard to refuse as Shell’s clever pitch of oil and gas assets to Woodside.

Shell, which already owns 34.3 per cent of Woodside, is offering a parcel of oil and gas assets in exchange for another 26 per cent of Woodside.

Hints from the target are that the offer is not good enough. Shell’s reply is to toss in a few more assets from its bottomless basket of goodies.

It’s a variation on the theme of “we know what you are, we’re only haggling about the price”.

Expect more goodies from Shell as it seeks a 60 per cent shareholding – and don’t forget the real cost to Shell is minimal because it’s simply swapping 100 per cent of something it already owns for 60 per cent and retention of control – smart move.

The end result from both bids is not so smart for Perth.

The city will have fewer operating companies and be treated even more as a branch office for the Dutchmen who run Shell from The Hague or the Poms who run Rio from London.

WA is fast becoming their private oilfield and/or quarry. Perhaps it always has been?

For the State Government the issue is insoluble.

It wants an open economy and both bids demonstrate how globalisation works.

Resources Minister, Colin Barnett, can fume and mutter about preferring the status quo but the game is really all but over – and with more acquisitions on the way.

Control of the new laterite nickel projects is already in the hands of South Africa’s Anglo American Corporation.

The biggest nickel producer, WMC, is a takeover target, as is the State’s biggest titanium minerals producer, Iluka Resources.

Welcome to the global world of the twenty-first century. The fun has just begun.

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