Excel Coal shareholders approve $1.5 bln Peabody bid

Excel Coal shareholders approve $1.5 bln Peabody bid

Shareholders in Australia’s Excel Coal Ltd. on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a $1.5 billion takeover by U.S-based Peabody Energy Corp. .

More than 99 percent of Excel shareholders agreed to Peabody’s sweetened A$9.50 per share bid, an Excel spokeswoman said.

Excel’s shares closed 0.3 percent lower at A$9.45, with analysts saying there was little expectation of a rival bid to challenge Peabody.

Peabody initially offered A$8.50 per share in July and won Excel board backing, but upped its offer and bought up 19.9 percent of Excel’s stock amid rumours that South Africa’s Anglo American Plc was readying a counter bid.

A rival offer from Anglo American never materialised.

Excel’s reserves of around 500 million tonnes of coking and thermal coal made it an attractive target to Peabody, which is looking to boost its coal sales in the Asian market.

In 2005/06, Australian coking coal prices for export to Asian steel makers leapt by 120 percent to $125 a tonne, boosted by rising Chinese steel production.

Australian thermal coal export prices jumped 20 percent, before being rolled over at around $52 a tonne for 2006/07. ($1=A$1.35)

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