Macarthur says talks with rival suitors continue

AUSTRALIAN miner and reluctant takeover target Macarthur Coal played up its growth prospects yesterday and said it was continuing talks on potential counter offers, nudging its shares higher.

Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal have made a A$5bn (£3.2bn) takeover offer. Macarthur considers the bid too low and is due to respond to it by 1 September.

But Macarthur said it remains in “continuing discussions with a number of interested parties in relation to possible alternative proposals”.

The group’s profit before one-offs rose to A$142.4m for the year to June, up 2.3 per cent from a year earlier but around A$2m short of forecasts.

Its second-half profit was hit by a five-month disruption to coal production after heavy rains and flooding in Queensland, saved only by record prices for coal used in steel-making.

Chief executive Nicole Hollows declined to comment on the bid talks or its major shareholders’ views ahead of the formal response to Peabody and ArcelorMittal’s offer, except to note that 24.5 per cent shareholder, China’s Citic Group, said last week it was weighing all options.

Anglo American is understood to be mulling a counter-bid.