Buyers pull out of Bandanna sell-off

INDIA’S largest power producer has pulled out of the race for Australian coal explorer Bandanna Energy’s assets after deeming the price not “viable” on Monday.

State-run NTPC Ltd produces 30% of India’s power and a possible bid on some, or all, of Bandanna’s Bowen and Galilee Basin holdings has been the subject of media speculation in recent weeks.

Despite the pull-out, Indian groups reportedly remain front and centre in the bidding process, with Jindal Steel and Power, another sub-continent company, reportedly confirming last week their plans to make an offer.

Bandanna’s board initially called for expressions of interest in three areas as part of a strategic review - 100% of the company’s interest in any of its projects, minority equity interest in any of its projects, or a change of control action at a group level.

On Monday, Bandanna acknowledged recent media speculation concerning the process of how the company will address the outcomes of the strategic review.

On July 14, Bandanna invited a short-list of parties to progress through a second stage of the process, a company spokesman said.

Second stage proponents expressed interest in both individual projects and corporate-based transactions, and Bandanna is now in discussions with them, added the spokesman.

“This may, or may not, result in a proposal being made or recommended by the board,” he said.

“The market will be advised of any such board recommendations and the outcome of the process, as appropriate.”

Besides Indian interest in Bandanna’s large thermal coal reserves, a number of groups from Korea and China are also reported to be involved. Bandanna has 1.48 billion tonnes of thermal coal reserves in Central and Western Queensland, but the reality is, the company needs more money to develop them.

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