* Shenhua has not offered to sell assets, Whitehaven says
* Shenhua has not made any takeover proposal
* Whitehaven sees benefits in combining assets with Shenhua
* Whitehaven shares jump as much as 4 pct
(Adds Whitehaven comment)
MELBOURNE, Dec 19 China's Shenhua Group has held
talks with Australia's Whitehaven Coal Ltd about a
potential corporate or asset deal, but has not made any
proposals to sell its assets to Whitehaven nor made a takeover
offer, Whitehaven said on Wednesday.
Whitehaven made the comment after a newspaper said Shenhua,
China's biggest coal producer, had recently discussed taking an
equity stake in Whitehaven in return for Shenhua's Watermark
coal assets in New South Wales.
Whitehaven said it routinely has talks with other coal
companies about opportunities, including corporate and asset
"Whitehaven has had such discussions at various times with
Shenhua, because of the obvious potential synergies between the
assets of each company in the Gunnedah Basin," it said in a
statement in response to the report in the Australian Financial
"Whitehaven has had no proposals from Shenhua to sell its
assets to Whitehaven, nor has there been any proposal from
Shenhua to acquire Whitehaven," it said.
Whitehaven has been under pressure after its biggest
shareholder, electrician-turned-mining magnate Nathan Tinkler,
scrapped a $5.5 billion bid to take Whitehaven private earlier
Tinkler offered A$5.20 a share for Whitehaven in July. The
stock has since sunk to A$3.21, valuing the company at A$3.3
billion ($3.5 billion), weighed down by weak prices for thermal
coal and worries that Tinkler may be forced to sell his 19.4
percent stake in the company as he struggles to pay off debts.
Shenhua expressed interest in bidding for Whitehaven nearly
two years ago, but that auction was called off last year after
Whitehaven failed to secure an acceptable offer.
The Australian miner then went on to acquire Tinkler's Aston
Resources for $2.2 billion earlier this year, taking over the
prized Maules Creek coal project.
Whitehaven shares rose as much as 4 percent on Wednesday
after the company confirmed it has held talks with Shenhua. Its
shares touched a high of A$3.34 and last traded at A$3.29.
($1 = 0.9487 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Chris Gallagher)