Noble rejects Macarthur's deal with Gloucester

Noble Group Ltd has backed out of Macarthur Coal's diminishing plan to acquire Gloucester Coal, saying it was getting sick of sitting around as a patient backstop to allow Macarthur to be shopped to the world.

"Noble Group wishes to announce that the merger proposal between Macarthur and Gloucester was soundly defeated by shareholders in a vote held in Hong Kong at 2.30pm today," the Hong Kong-based commodities trader said in a statement today.
Noble Group, which holds an 87.7-per cent stake in Gloucester Coal, has all along been backing Queensland-based Macarthur's plan of acquiring Gloucester Coal as it would end up with a 24.6-per cent stake in Macarthur as well as a 25 per cent stake in Macarthur's Middlemount coal mine.

It would also have given it an option to increase its stake in the Middlemount mine to 50 per cent, which would entail it to getting the right to sell 100 per cent of the output of the mine for life.

But Noble's plan was hijacked by St Louis, Missouri-based coal miner Peabody Energy, when it made an unsolicited offer to acquire Macarthur on the condition that Macarthur drops its plan of buying Gloucester Coal.

But Macarthur had rejected Peabody's proposal as well as another bid from fellow coal miner New Hope Corporation this month. (See: Macarthur Coal becomes hot property as more buyers enter fray) After being rejected by Macarthur twice this month, Peabody again raised its offer on 15 April to A$16 per share, or $3.8 billion, which made Macarthur postpone its today's EGM and consider the new revised proposal. (See: Macarthur receives revised $3.8 billion bid from Peabody Energy) and (See:Macarthur postpones EGM to talk with Peabody)

Peaboody's revised proposal has helped Macarthur's large shareholders like China's Citic Resources Holdings, which holds 22.4 per cent, ArcelorMittal, which holds 16.6 per cent and South Korea's Posco, which holds 8.3 per cent, to keep their stakes intact if they did not agree to the deal.