Macarthur Coal set to take over Gloucester Coal

Macarthur Coal, the world's biggest exporter of pulverised coal used by steelmakers, has requested for a trading halt on its stock with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) pending the release of a major announcement by the company or until the commencement of normal trading on 24 December.

"The reason for the trading halt is that Macarthur expects to make a significant announcement in relation to a material corporate transaction," the company said in its request to the ASX.

There were media reports that Macarthur is set to make a takeover bid for Gloucester Coal, the details of which is expected later in the day.

Gloucester Coal, which has operations in New South Wales where it produces coking coal and thermal coal used for power generation, has a market value of $537 million as on 21 December closing.

The acquisition will further consolidate the coal industry. Macarthur produces 35 per cent of the global supply of pulverized coal from two mines, Coppabella and Moorvale, in Australia's Queensland state.

Shares in Singapore-listed commodities firm Noble were also suspended as it holds 87 per cent stake in Gloucester.