MACARTHUR TO ENTER PEABODY TALKS

MACARTHUR TO ENTER PEABODY TALKS

THE feeding frenzy around Macarthur Coal Limited (MCC) has finally got a bite, with the Brisbane-based coal miner agreeing to negotiations over Peabody Energy’s $4.1 billion bid.

As a result the shareholder meeting on Monday to vote on Gloucester Coal-related transactions has been postponed.

Macarthur’s three major shareholders are divided over the proposal, with Korean steelmaker POSCO issuing its support, while Dutch-based ArcelorMittal and Beijing-based CITIC remain undecided.

POSCO, which holds 10 per cent of shares in the Brisbane-based coal miner, has issued its support for the proposal in a statement announced on the ASX today.

“POSCO confirms its in-principle support for a Peabody-led privatisation of Macarthur in the absence of a superior proposal,” the statement says.

“POSCO presently intends to retain its existing economic interest in the resultant private company structure.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company which holds a 16.6 per cent shareholding in Macarthur, has issued a less committed response.

A statement from ArcelorMittal said:

“Although not providing (a) specific decision as to how ArcelorMittal will vote at any shareholders’ meeting, ArcelorMittal does recognise that the Peabody offer is one that warrants MCC giving it due consideration and providing them the necessary time for the five days due diligence that (Peabody have sought from the MCC board.”

CITIC, which holds 23.39 per cent in Macarthur, is also non-committal to Peabody's proposal at this stage.

A statement from CITIC said:

"Based on the current limited information available to CITIC about Peabody's further proposal, CITIC is not in a position to make an informed assessment enabling it to make a decision on whether or not it could support Peabody's further proposal."

Peabody’s proposal involves a bid of $16 cash per share, with the condition that the existing three major shareholders are entitled to retain their interests if they choose.

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