The Coal Trader

Coal Mining Whitehaven Coal

Deal close on Whitehaven’s Blackwater mine selldown

The $7bn listed coal miner Whitehaven Coal is believed to be on the cusp of a deal to sell down part of its Blackwater coal mine, which it purchased as part of a wider $6.4bn acquisition from BHP. The understanding is that two parties – one from Japan and one from India – may be about to surface as buyers of a stake. While the identities are unknown, sources pointed to steel producer JSW Group of India or Nippon of Japan.

Whitehaven has previously flagged a possible selldown after paying up for the Queensland assets last year in an auction, when it was advised by UBS. The suggestion at the time was that Blackwater accounted for most of the value of the $US3.2bn deal – as much as $US2.5bn.

Whitehaven said that regulatory approvals for that deal were progressing and it was expected to complete on April 2. At its results last week, chief executive Paul Flynn said the deal to acquire BHP’s Daunia and Blackwater mines would transform the company into a leading supplier of metallurgical coal for key export markets, where it would earn about 70 per cent of its revenue from export coal. He said there had been strong interest in possible plans to sell a 20 per cent stake in the Blackwater mine to global steelmakers as strategic joint venture partners. He said a high price was likely to be paid for partial ownership of the asset.

“We expect to get a better price for the slice, and the interest that we’re seeing is from people who are trying to make sure that they’ve got access to material for the next two or three decades,” he said at the time.

“This is a highly attractive acquisition, with considerable upside potential, which we expect will deliver meaningful returns to our shareholders for many years to come.”

As part of the transaction, Whitehaven paid $US2.1bn upfront, less a $US100m deposit. Deferred consideration of $US500m, $US500m and $US100m was payable on the first, second and third anniversaries of the completion date. Contingent payments of up to $US900m comprised annual payments dependent on realised pricing exceeding agreed thresholds.

Last week, Whitehaven reported a 58 per cent fall in revenue for the six months to December to $1.6bn and an 86 per cent decrease in net profit to $257.6m as coal prices fell from their giddy heights during the period.

Whitehaven shares closed up 5c to $7.13 on Friday.