* Indian, Chinese firms, including Tata, also circling OCH
* Glencore has or has commitments for over 49 pct -sources
* Takeover would be Glencore's biggest since listing
* Glencore jumps in at a time of political uncertainty
(Adds Tata comment, Optimum closing share price)
By Jacqueline Cowhig and Ed Stoddard
LONDON/JOHANNESBURG, Sept 6 Glencore ,
the world's largest commodity trader, has almost doubled its
stake in takeover target Optimum Coal Holdings to 23.9
percent, and sources said shareholders had promised to sell much
Glencore said on Tuesday it had bought 24.6 million shares
in the South African coal miner at an average price of 37.98
rand on Monday.
Sources close to the deal said Glencore had also secured
commitments from OCH shareholders to sell enough shares to take
its holding to at least 49 percent.
Glencore's offer to shareholders made some time in early
July bound them to negotiate exclusively with Glencore for 60
Glencore has been the most determined bidder, but other
foreign firms have also shown a keen interest, sources close to
the deal said.
India's Tata Power had a serious look at OCH's data room and
has approached some of the minority shareholders with a view to
buying a stake but may have dropped out of the running now, the
Tata power declined to comment specifically on Optimum, but
said it had "an ongoing process to evaluate various
opportunities to acquire resources including coal mines
At least one other privately owned Indian trader and a
Chinese coal importer have also approached shareholders, the
Those shareholders who have not yet decided whether or to
whom to sell are still being doggedly pursued by interested
parties because the 60-day exclusivity agreement has just
expired or is about to expire.
OCH's shares ended down 2.6 percent at 37 rand,
underperforming a 1.2 percent fall on Johannesburg's wider
all-share index .
The price Glencore paid on Monday was considerably more than
the 34 rand per share that it and a company owned by its South
African partner, politician-turned-tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa, had
publicly offered in a deal valuing OCH at about $1.1 billion.
It is the Swiss-based trader's largest takeover bid since
its May stock market listing.
Glencore's deep pockets and Ramaphosa's influence would make
for a formidable bid that could nullify opposition from unions
or shareholders, some of whom may be reluctant to see the trader
extend its reach in South Africa.
"It's good to see someone from outside the country investing
and backing South Africa. Glencore has for years provided a
service to the juniors to allow a lot of coal to leave the
country, to have it marketed, which otherwise would not have
done so," said a source at one of South Africa's biggest coal
The drive into South African mining also comes amid investor
uncertainty about regulatory requirements such as black
ownership targets, talk of nationalisation, steeply rising costs
and labour militancy.
Chinese metals giant Jinchuan is in the process of taking
over South Africa-listed miner Metorex , but it will be
delisted in Johannesburg, and its copper and cobalt operations
are elsewhere in Africa, so it has no exposure to domestic
But South African coal assets still look promising, given
Asian and local power utility demand and the country's location,
with shipping access to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
($1 = 7.120 South African Rand)
(Additional reporting by Ketan Bondre; Editing by Will