When the largest coal company in the US, Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTU) paid about $5 billion for Australia’s MacArthur Coal last year, it basically committed itself to Australia’s Bowen Basin. Then Peabody hired UBS to advise it on selling its other Australian assets, and last month the company let it be known among potential bidders that the Wilkie Creek mine would be available.
Most of the interest is expected to come from Chinese and Japanese companies, but The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Thailand’s state-owned energy company PTT may be interested in acquiring the mine. Wilkie Creek’s value is estimated at about $500-$750 million. The mine produces 2 million tons of coal a year, and the total resource is estimated at 500 million metric tons.
Because state-owned companies are generally interested in making strategic energy acquisitions, they are usually willing to pay a premium for whatever asset they have in their sights. That’s good news for Peabody because it juices up the offers from other bidders. Bids for the mine are set to close on April 23rd.
Peabody’s shares rose about 7.5% yesterday to close at $29.34 in a 52-week range of $27.11-$68.30. Shares are up less than 0.5% in the pre-market.