Northern Energy shares soar

NORTHERN Energy Corporation shares closed up 39.5% on Friday to 155.5c – already eclipsing the $1.50 per share takeover offer made by cashed-up Queensland coal producer New Hope. More twists are ahead as no recent talks have been held between the two companies. .
Northern Energy shares soar Northern Energy shares soar Northern Energy shares soar Northern Energy shares soar Northern Energy shares soar

Greg Rowan, senior inspector of mines, Queensland Government Natural
Resources & Mines

Blair Price

“We haven’t spoken to them in the last few days,” New Hope chairman Robert Millner told ILN on Friday afternoon.

“We have had some initial meetings with them and that’s about all.”

Northern’s board has appointed Merrill Lynch as advisors and is yet to fully consider the offer.

But the coal explorer announced the cash bid was unsolicited as well as subject to numerous conditions, including a 50.1% minimum acceptance of the offer.

While it is unclear whether Northern will support an acquisition, Millner said New Hope was making the offer because of the explorer’s assets.

“Hopefully they will come back to us and we would like to work with the NEC board on a friendly merger,” he said.

New Hope’s offer was a 43% premium to Northern’s closing price on Wednesday.

Millner said it was a good premium and Northern did not have the capital to develop its deposits.

“So I think it’s a great deal for their shareholders,” he said.

New Hope has been on the hunt for investments since it made a $A1.7 billion post-tax profit from selling its New Saraji project to BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, with this deal struck back in July 2008.

“Obviously we have been looking at a lot of different companies in this space and this present time we think Northern Energy is our best target,” Millner said.

Northern’s bid for this allocation will cater to its Elimatta thermal coal project, with the development of the planned Surat Basin Rail designed to sync up with the second stage of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal.

Northern is on track to start production from its 500,000 tonnes per annum Colton hard coking coal project in Queensland in 2012, and has secured a 500,000t allocation from the first stage of WICET.

While the new terminal is not expected to start shipping under its stage-one capacity until 2014, Northern already holds an allocation through Barney Point for the interim period.

The Elimatta open cut project hosts 106Mt of marketable reserves with mine construction slated for late 2011.

Earlier this year, and before the Resources Super-Profits Tax was unveiled, New Hope made a failed takeover bid for Macarthur Coal that included a cash option of $A14.50 a share.

New Hope shares closed up 2c to $5.10 on Friday.