Glencore hikes stake in takeover target - South Africa's Optimum Coal

Glencore, the world's largest commodity trader has almost doubled its stake in South African takeover target Optimum Coal (OPT) to 23.9 per cent by buying shares at a higher price than the buyout offer it made last week.

Glencore acquired 24.6 million shares on the market yesterday at 38 rand ($5.34) each, taking its stake in South Africa's sixth largest coal producer to 23.9 per cent.

Late last month, the Swiss miner had acquired 14.1 per cent of Optimum and on 1 September offered to buy Optimum Coal at 34 rand a share, valuing the Johannesburg-based coal miner at $1.2 billion.

OPT was sold by BHP Billiton in 2008 for an undisclosed sum to local black economic empowerment company Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH), which was bankrolled by AMCI Capital - one of the world's largest energy-focused private equity fund.

OPT's operations include Optimum Collieries, a large open-cast and underground mining complex comprising four coal production areas, and Koornfontein Mines – both in the Mpumalanga coalfield.

Optimum Collieries is the third-largest open-cast coal mine in South Africa, having a life of 21 years with coal resources of 719 million tons and reserve base in excess of 257 million tons.