Despite a recent assertion of independence from Rio Tinto that would have brought a tear to Gloria Gaynor's eye, BHP Billiton said it's still pursuing its $128-billion buyout bid to acquire the firm. BHP Chairman Don Argus said at the company's annual meeting today, We believe that a combination of the two would deliver more shareholder value than either is capable of delivering alone. Chief Executive Marius Kloppers seconded the motion with his heartfelt comment, These two companies are worth more together than apart... It is not a question of us needing them, or them needing us.

BHP might want to dig a little deeper in its pockets if it wants to unlock all that shareholder value Austock analyst Tim Gerard told Dow Jones that The bulk of any synergies in iron ore are likely to come from Rio, along with new growth options in global iron ore, copper and advanced exploration. As such, Gerard suggests, an offer along the lines of 4.3 BHP shares per RTP share might be more compelling than the current 3-to-1 bid.

RTP shares are up more than 2% in early trading, while BHP has ticked about 0.5% higher.