COMPANY ACTIVITY

Bowen steps up Rocklands bid with Bhushan support

BHUSHAN Steel vice-president Anil Ahuja has sent a clear message to shareholders of exploration company Rocklands Richfield: refusing Bowen Energy's takeover bid would be a mistake. <b>By Tarryn Truscott</b>

Staff Reporter
Bowen steps up Rocklands bid with Bhushan support

Ahuja visited Australia this week from India to offer support for Bowen Energy as a decision on its bid for Rocklands Richfield draws near.

 

He also encouraged Bowen Energy to do "whatever it takes" to secure the takeover bid, with the Australian company this morning announcing it had increased its offer to Rocklands Richfield shareholders to 40c cash and one Bowen share for every two Rocklands shares.

 

This is up from its initial offer of one Bowen share and 10c cash per Rocklands Richfield share and is funded by a loan arrangement between Bhushan and Bowen, conditional upon the new offer being accepted by Rocklands shareholders.

 

Last month Bhushan Steel signed a $A4.5 million agreement with Bowen Energy that gives Bhushan a 90% interest and a right of first refusal to develop any of Bowen's existing and future coal projects, including the Rocklands Richfield reserves.

 

Ahuja told International Longwall News that Bhushan, India's third largest producer of steel, has long-term plans to secure coal reserves in Australia and become a big player in the Australian coal market.

 

He said Bhushan Steel has already invested about $2 million in Australian industry and is confident Rocklands Richfield shareholders will prefer its bid to an alternative company takeover offer by Chinese Coke and Chemicals.

 

"We have the capacity, we have the expertise and we have the money - we want to do it," Ahuja said.

 

While Bhushan Steel's concentration is firmly fixed on acquiring Rocklands Richfield's coal tenements it will look at other companies and other operations in the future in its bid to secure coal sources for its rapidly expanding steel operations.

 

"At the moment our focus is on Australian coal and guaranteeing our supply and then perhaps we will look at iron ore and building a power station in Australia but that is a long-term outlook," Ahuja said.

 

"We have travelled internationally in search of coal deposits and want to work in Australia because of the professionalism and the culture and we believe we have a great future in this country."

 

He said Bhushan Steel has plans to expand to be a 7 million tonne per annum producer of steel by 2012 and that acquiring Rocklands Richfield's Bowen Basin coal assets was important, but not essential to its future plans.

 

"We have been in discussions with many companies and we are looking into other opportunities for now," Ahuja said.

 

"We have been to Bowen Energy operations and are very pleased with our relationship with Bowen."

 

Rocklands Richfield shareholders will vote on whether to accept the CCC bid on Tuesday.

 

Ahuja said if the CCC bid is accepted by Rocklands shareholders Bhushan Steel will "walk away" and concentrate on alternate projects.

 

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