Noble wins in Gloucester tug of war

COMMODITIES trader Noble Group has beaten off Whitehaven Coal by hiking its cash takeover offer by $1 a share on Friday, a deal the Gloucester directors consider superior to the proposed Whitehaven merger.
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The Narrabri underground project.

Blair Price

A jump of 16.67% from its previous bid to $7 per share, Noble’s offer was conditional on the proposed Whitehaven deal not proceeding.

Gloucester directors have since declared Noble’s deal as superior and more in the interests of its shareholders than the Whitehaven merger.

“Gloucester directors unanimously recommend that Gloucester shareholders accept the increased Noble offer in the absence of a superior offer,” the producer announced.

Gloucester said the Whitehaven merger would not proceed unless Noble’s increased bid lapsed or otherwise did not proceed.

Whitehaven said in an announcement it was “highly unlikely” that Noble’s bid would not proceed.

Prior to its expected takeover success, Hong Kong-based Noble already had a 21.7% stake in Gloucester and had defeated a challenge to ownership of the company.

Back in 2007, Noble and private mining group AMCI used their stakes to vote down a takeover offer by Xstrata Coal, despite the wishes of Gloucester’s board.

Noble also has a controlling interest in unlisted Australian producer Donaldson Coal.

The commodities trader ended March with a cash position of $US1.24 billion, the second-highest level in its history.

Noble’s latest bid values Gloucester at around $A572 million.

Gloucester shares are unchanged this morning at $5.89 while Whitehaven shares have dived 20c or 8.7% to $2.10.