Aditya Birla outbid by Swiss-Russian trading firm Prominvest for Northern Iron

Swiss-Russian trading company, Prominvest AG on Friday offered to buy Australian junior miner Northern Iron Ltd for A$525 million ($550 million), trumping an earlier sweetened A$518 million ($532 million) bid from Indian diversified conglomerate Aditya Birla Group.

West Perth-based Northern Iron yesterday said the Prominvest has offered A$1.42 per share in a "highly conditional, indicative, nonbinding stage one proposal"

Northern Iron said that it has rejected Prominvest's conditional offer of exclusive due diligence, but will give access to its books if Prominvest dropped its exclusivity request.

Northern Iron had rejected Aditya Birla Group initial May bid of $1.28 and $1.35 a share as too low, but offered limited due-diligence to see whether the Kolkata-based company could return with a better offer.

Aditya Birla Group on 24 July returned with a sweetened A$1.40 per share offer, a 75-per cent premium to Northern Iron's closing stock price on 23 July on the Australian Stock Exchange, and was given detailed stage two due diligence by the board of Northern Iron.

In a filing with the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday , Northern Iron said, "Subject to one or both of Aditya Birla Group and Prominvest participating in the due diligence process, NFE will engage with each relevant party to determine whether a binding proposal can be agreed upon."