The blue-chip commodities giant is thought to be considering a £4.7bn bid for the New York-listed coal miner, sending shares in the smaller company rocketing by a third last week.
Walter, the latest in a string of firms linked to Anglo American, would reduce the firm’s exposure to South Africa, in line with chief executive Cynthia Carroll’s strategy. However, analysts say the bid is unlikely to materialise, with Anglo investors said to be unimpressed by the mooted $120-a-share offer.
A source close to the company played down the chances of a bid, saying the high price of commodities and the downturn in equities has kicked the mining M&A rumour mill into overdrive.
He said: “We have been linked to a lot of mid-tier miners recently and there is a lot of noise. At the moment, that’s all it is.”
Anglo American declined to comment and Walter was not available to comment last night.