The European Commission on Thursday gave a conditional green light to the massive tie-up between Swiss mining giant Xstrata and commodities trader Glencore that would create a global leader.
"The clearance is conditional on the termination of Glencore's off-take arrangements for zinc metal in the European Economic Area with Nyrstar, the world's largest zinc metal producer, and the divestiture of Glencore's minority shareholding in Nyrstar," it said in a statement.
Shareholders of Glencore and Xstrata -- both headquartered in the tax haven of Zoug in Switzerland -- on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a merger of the two firms to create a goliath capable of out-muscling nearly everyone in their field.
If it obtains the necessary regulatory approvals, Glencore-Xstrata would enter the stage as the world's fourth-biggest commodities company in terms of market capitalisation, after BHP Billiton, Vale and Rio Tinto.
Glencore and Xstrata said last month they hoped the combined company, with a market capitalisation of around 67 billion euros ($US85.5 billion) and with a combined turnover of $US209.4 billion, could come into being by the end of the year.
The long deadlocked process advanced last month when Xstrata's main shareholder, Qatar Holding -- the energy-rich emirate's top sovereign wealth fund -- said it was satisfied with renegotiated terms of the deal.
A number of Xstrata shareholders had also been up in arms over a provision in the initial deal that would have provided massive bonuses to 73 Xstrata executives to ensure they remained with the merged company.