Chinese firm offers premium for Australian coal explorer

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 3:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 3:32pm

Private Chinese company China Kingho Energy has offered a hefty 110 per cent premium in a A$66 million (HK$463 million) bid for Australian coal explorer Carabella Resources, which said on Thursday it had also received expressions of interest from other parties.

The bid is evidence of Chinese interest in snapping up cheap Australian coal assets, while others are shunning the sector amid a supply glut for thermal coal and metallurgical coal and concerns about steep production costs.

“Carabella is one of the few coking coal development plays, and we expect additional bids for Carabella to emerge,” PhillipCapital analyst Lawrence Grech said in a note.

Kingho unit Wealth Mining made the bid on Thursday after acquiring 11 per cent of Carabella’s shares and failing to get a response from Carabella’s board to an all-cash takeover offer of A$0.42 a share, valuing the group at A$66 million, submitted earlier in the week.

Carabella’s shares shot up 120 per cent to a high of A$0.45, indicating investors were holding out for a higher bid.

“We wish to acquire Carabella as an important first step in Kingho’s strategy to develop an Australian headquarters for our global resources and development businesses outside of China,” Kingho chairman and founder Qinghua Huo said in a statement.

Carabella is being advised by UBS and said it would respond to the offer early next year. It told shareholders to take no action.

PhillipCapital said the bid was opportunistically timed, coming just as Carabella was poised to receive some key approvals for its coal projects.

Kingho, which has eight coal mines and produces gas and fuels from coal, has secured approval from China’s National Development and Reform Commission for the bid and expects to receive two other required Chinese approvals.

The bid does not need to be cleared by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board, it said.

Its offer is due to close on January 20.

The Chinese firm is being advised by Deutsche Bank.