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Linc Energy Studies Offers for $412 Million Coal Unit

Linc Energy Ltd. said it’s studying bids for its Australian coal assets, which it valued last year at about A$440 million ($412 million), as the company focuses on oil and gas projects.

Linc, which has a market value of S$779 million ($623 million), has been considering options for its New Emerald Coal Ltd. business, including a sale, an initial public offering or a joint venture. The coal unit has 27 exploration permits in Queensland state and last year acquired the shuttered Blair Athol mine from Rio Tinto Group with plans to reopen it.

“We’ve got bids in, and we’re assessing them,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Bond said yesterday by phone from Brisbane, declining to name any interested companies. “People who are interested are interested as a cyclical play.”

Coal at Newcastle port in Australia, an Asian benchmark, has fallen 19 percent this year and closed at $69.02 a metric ton on Aug. 1, according to globalCOAL, a London-based data provider and trading platform. It has averaged $74.56 this year. Coal will average $75 a ton in 2014 and $78 in 2015, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. forecast in a July 23 report.

Linc rose 6.4 percent to S$1.33 in Singapore, the highest in more than four months.

Linc is seeking to sell the coal business to concentrate on oil, gas, shale and coal-to-gas ventures. The company, whose shares trade in Singapore, expected to complete a sale or spinoff of the business in 2014, it said in November.

Linc is in talks with companies about a range of potential deals and is at different stages of negotiations, Bond said.

While the company moves forward with plans for an Australian coal sale, it will look at purchases of onshore oil acreage in Texas, Louisiana and Alaska, he said.

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