Yanzhou Coal has reportedly engaged Gloucester Coal in preliminary discussions about a merger that could create Australia’s largest independent coal producer, valued at $8 billion. The Financial Review has learned that Yanzhou’s local arm, Yancoal Australia, is speaking to Gloucester about a possible backdoor listing of its Hunter Valley Coal assets. This could be crucial to satisfying its agreement with the Australian government to list at least 30 per cent of its local assets by the end of next year, an agreement struck over the $3.2 billion purchase of Felix Resources.
If a merger proposal is agreed upon and put to shareholders, it brings about the interesting scenario where a Chinese firm is on either end of the transaction – Yanzhou Coal on the bidder's side and Hong Kong’s Noble Group on the Gloucester side, with 65 per cent of the target.
It marks a historic period in the history of Australian coal. New Hope is in the middle of a sales process, right on the back of Peabody Energy’s purchase of Macarthur Coal. Meanwhile, the $5.1 billion merger of equals between Whitehaven Coal and Aston Resources is expected to make the largest independent coal producer, unless of course this deal gets up.
See also: Santa Baby, bring me coal