New Hope takes hold of NEC

NEW Hope has captured 84.57% of the shares of Queensland coal explorer Northern Energy Corporation through its $1.85 cash takeover offer – leading to a management handover.
New Hope takes hold of NEC New Hope takes hold of NEC New Hope takes hold of NEC New Hope takes hold of NEC New Hope takes hold of NEC

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Blair Price

With the takeover offer closing on Friday evening, by yesterday morning New Hope was a little more than 5% short of the 90% level required to trigger a compulsory acquisition.

New Hope chairman Robert Millner is the new chairman of NEC, replacing Dr Christopher Rawlings, while NEC managing director Keith Barker has resigned, along with NEC non-executive director Samuel Willis.

New Hope MD Robert Neale has been appointed to the board of NEC, along with fellow New Hope directors Peter Robinson, David Fairfull, Bill Grant and David Williamson.

Back in October, New Hope’s initial bid of $1.50 per share received a hostile reception from NEC’s board, while a $1.75 bid did not fare much better in January.

NEC maintained that New Hope’s offer undervalued the company to the end, citing an independent expert’s preferred lower valuation range of $2.70-3.99 per NEC share.

But the explorer’s board failed to secure a stronger counter-offer from other potential bidders and NEC directors committed to selling their shares in anticipation that the shares would plummet after New Hope’s offer expired.

NEC is on track to start production from the 500,000 tonnes per annum Colton hard coking coal deposit within its Maryborough project in 2012 and has a port allocation for this amount from the first-stage development of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal.

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

The explorer’s Elimatta open cut project in the Surat Basin hosts 106 million tonnes of marketable reserves with mine construction slated for late 2011.

NEC shares surged by 39.5% to $1.55 on the day the $1.50 takeover offer was announced.

NEC shares closed up 0.5c to $1.85 yesterday and are unchanged this morning.

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