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JUN 20 2012

Jindal Steel & Power may exit race to buy Australian coal company Rocklands Richfield

  • Economic Times, ET Bureau / Hyderabad
  • Created: Wed 20th JUN 2012

Jindal Steel & Power, the Naveen Jindal-controlled steelmaker, is likely to exit from a three-year long takeover tussle for listed Australian coal explorer Rocklands Richfield, following an aggressive bid by China's Linyi Mining Group which has swung the support of Rocklands senior management to the Chinese offer.

Linyi Mining's offer on June 12, to buy all of Rocklands Richfield's shares at A$0.52 a share, is at a 73 per cent premium to Jindal Steel's publicly stated maximum price of A$0.30 for the coal mining company, which is estimated to have about 800 million tonnes of coal reserves in the Bowen Basin in Queensland. The Chinese company has already entered into a pre-bid share agreement to buy about 20 per cent equity from Rocklands chairman and majority shareholder Wu Pun Yan.

Jindal Steel did not respond to queries on the issue. Rajesh Bhatia, executive V-P-finance and Jindal's representative on Rocklands Richfield board, declined to comment.

If Jindal Steel walks away from the Rocklands investment, it would be the second exit for the New Delhi-based company in less than a month. In early June, Jindal Steel had expressed its intention to pull out from a mining project in Bolivia due to delay in project approvals and inadequate support from the Latin American government. The development would also highlight growing resistance faced by Indian companies to acquire overseas resources as owners lured by rising mineral prices demand higher valuations and renege on pacts.

Linyi Mining is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shandong Energy, China's fifth-largest coal producer and owns about 20 per cent in Rocklands, while Jindal Steel has 26.6 per cent stake.

In July last, Jindal Steel had bought about 12.8 per cent in Rocklands Richfield at A$0.30 a share which valued the company at A$88 million. It had then announced that the price was the maximum valuation for the company. "The latest offer is a significant premium to Jindal's price and if they (the Jindals) revise their offer, there could be issues with the shareholders from whom they had bought the 12.8 per cent stake last year," a person aware of the details, said.

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Delhi China Energy Naveen Jindal Power

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