* Offer of A$1 a share pitched at 17 pct premium
* Whitehaven already owns 17.3 pct of Coalworks
(Adds Itochu joint venture)
MELBOURNE May 7 Australia's Whitehaven Coal
said it plans to acquire coal explorer Coalworks
for A$172 million ($174 million), wrapping up a
consolidation of coal projects following its takeover of Aston
Earlier this year, Whitehaven became the nation's biggest
independent coal miner when it agreed a $2.5 billion takeover of
Aston and a local coal explorer, both controlled by
electrician-turned billionaire Nathan Tinkler.
Coalworks, another Tinkler vehicle, is developing projects
close to Whitehaven's coal mines in New South Wales, including
the Vickery South coking coal and thermal coal project, where it
has a joint venture with Japan's Itochu Corp.
Whitehaven, which already controls 17.3 percent of
Coalworks, pitched its offer at A$1.00 a share, a 17 percent
premium to Coalworks' last trade, which it considered fair given
Coalworks shares had already risen on takeover speculation.
Whitehaven said it would fund the takeover out of cash
reserves and debt facilities.
Whitehaven closed on Friday at $4.91.
(Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; Editing by Eric Meijer)