Whitehaven Denies Report Shenhua Sought to Sell It Assets

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Whitehaven Coal Ltd. said it hasn’t received approaches to buy assets from China Shenhua Energy Co. in Australia, or any proposal from the Chinese company to take over the coal producer.

Whitehaven and Shenhua have met in recent months to discuss a sale of Shenhua’s Watermark coal project in New South Wales state in return for a stake in the Sydney-based company, the Australian Financial Review reported today, citing unidentified sources. Whitehaven rejected the proposal, asking Shenhua to make a takeover bid, the paper said. Whitehaven has a market value of A$3.5 billion ($3.7 billion).

“Whitehaven has had no proposals from Shenhua to sell its assets to Whitehaven, nor has there been any proposal from Shenhua to acquire Whitehaven,” the company said today in a statement. Whitehaven routinely holds talks with other coal companies about business opportunities, and has had discussions “at various times with Shenhua because of the obvious potential synergies between the assets of each company in the Gunnedah Basin.”

Whitehaven owns seven mines in NSW, while Shenhua’s Watermark project is located near Whitehaven’s rail infrastructure in the Gunnedah basin. Nathan Tinkler, Whitehaven’s biggest shareholder, in August scrapped a takeover proposal valuing the miner at A$5.3 billion after coal prices fell.

Whitehaven rose 8.1 percent to A$3.47 at the close of trading in Sydney, the highest since Aug. 23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at ebehrmann1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Hobbs at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net