Rio Tinto closing in on Riversdale deal

City A.M. Reporter
Global miner Rio Tinto inched closer to gaining control of coal producer Riversdale Mining after a $3.9bn sweetened bid rallied more shareholders to accept the offer but Riversdale's top shareholders Tata Steel and CSN still hold the key.

Rio, which has set a deadline of April 1 to gain majority control of Riversdale, said it had gained acceptances from 26.13 percent of shareholders as of 11 March, up from 17.86 per cent earlier.

Rio raised its bid by 3 percent to A$16.50 a share last Thursday and extended the offer period for a third time but said the new offer was final if no rival bids emerged.

Despite rising support for the bid, India's Tata Steel, the world's No.7 steel maker and Brazil steel maker CSN, remain the key obstacles.

The two firms have increased their stakes in Riversdale since the bid and now hold a combined 47 percent.

Without their support, Rio needs the support of nearly all minority shareholders of the Africa-focussed miner. However, institutional investors have been reluctant to commit without knowing the two steelmakers' intentions.

Tata, a long-time shareholder in Riversdale, has a director on the board who has backed Rio Tinto's offer, indicating Tata is not hostile to the bid.

Tata Steel Managing Director Hemant Nerurkar has said the company is mainly interested in securing coal supplies from Riversdale.