Yanzhou Coal Could Bid For Whitehaven

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Yanzhou Coal, China's fourth-largest coal company, could team with Indian mining firm Aditya Birla to make a bid for Australia's Whitehaven, a company that was the topic of intense takeover speculation last year when several firms, including U.S.-based coal producers were rumored to be interested in the company.

Yanzhou (YZC) and Aditya Birla could offer up $3.5 billion for Whitehaven, according to sources quoted by Reuters. Last year, Peabody Energy (BTU), the largest U.S. coal producer, was also rumored to be among the potential Whitehaven suitors. The company may again be viewed as such, Reuters noted.

Last August, Australian press reports said Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) was mulling a $2.75 billion bid for Whitehaven, but it would seem unlikely that Alpha Natural would again be a possible suitor for the Australian firm because Alpha Natural is in the midst of acquiring Massey Energy (MEE).

Analysts said last year that Whitehaven is a compelling takeover target because of its exposure to metallurgical coal and Australia's proximity to China, where coal is in high demand. China Shenhua Group and China Coal Energy may also make a run at Whitehaven, according to Reuters.