Aurizon, Baosteel to acquire Aquila after raising stake

SYDNEY Tue Jul 8, 2014 8:04pm EDT

A woman is reflected on a wall with a company logo of Baosteel Group at an office in Shanghai, July 24, 2011.  REUTERS/Stringer

A woman is reflected on a wall with a company logo of Baosteel Group at an office in Shanghai, July 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Chinese steel giant Baosteel Resources and Australian rail operator Aurizon Holdings Ltd (AZJ.AX) said on Wednesday they will make a compulsory acquisition of Aquila Resources Ltd AQA.AX after raising their joint stake to over 90 percent.

The two companies recommended in a joint statement that investors accept the offer "as soon as possible." The offer closes on July 25.

Baosteel wants to develop Aquila's $7 billion West Pilbara Iron Ore mine, rail and port project, with Aurizon.

Baosteel, which owned 20 percent of Aquila until last month, has been trying to get the West Pilbara Iron Ore project under way since it first bought into Aquila in 2009. After losing patience, it decided to make a bid for the company with Aurizon.

It warned last month it would not raise or extend its offer, and said that if the bid failed it would not back the West Pilbara project and may dump its shares in Aquila.

Aquila has advised shareholders to accept the Baosteel-led offer valuing the company at $1.3 billion, a surprise move after it had rejected a higher bid from mining contractor Mineral Resources Ltd (MIN.AX).

"We ... look forward to working with Aurizon, state and federal governments, and Aquila's joint venture partners to progress the development of the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project and the Eagle Downs Hard Coking Coal Project," Baosteel Chairman Zhihao Dai said in a statement on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Aquila appointed three Baosteel nominees and one Aurizon nominee to its board.

Aquila shares have risen more than 38 percent since the offer was announced on May 5 but have traded flat after Aquila accepted Baosteel's joint bid last month.

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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