THE RESOURCE sector’s upward trajectory was further boosted last week by the sale of the New Saraji Coal Project to BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance for $2.45 billion
The sale was motivated by the rapid escalation of prices in the fuel market, and sparked a highly competitive tender bidding process.
Baker & McKenzie has acted for New Hope since it listed on the ASX five years ago. At that time, it was what lead partner Steven Glanz describes as a “junior coal exploration company”. Since then, New Hope has expanded rapidly, acquiring interests in the largest open-cut cola mine in Indonesia and other mining projects in Queensland.
“There’s a huge amount of interest in the commodity sector at this time, particularly coal. For many years you couldn’t give it away. That’s why probably five years ago BHP, which was the former owner of this project, sold it — it was not [seen as] viable and they weren’t interested,” Glanz said.
“New Hope bought it and with the rapid escalation of prices decided to put it up for tender and see what it was worth.”
As it turns out, the asset was worth nearly $2.5 billion and was keenly chased by a number of bidders. BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), advised by Mallesons Stephen Jaques, ultimately won the tender, and the deal was announced on 19 July.
The deal required a series of government approvals, including state government approvals relating to the operations of ports for transferring of mining tenements. The Bakers team, led by Glanz, consisted of David Holland, Elisha Rowe, Peter Davis, Maria Pawelek, Jennifer Morrow and Darren Greenwell.
The deal was completed within 10 days of the parties reaching a commercial understanding. To get the deal done in this time frame was a challenge, but not as “atrocious” as some other deals, Glanz said.
“It was … very competitive, and when the commercial terms were reached between BHP and New Hope they wanted it done yesterday, so we crunched it pretty quickly.”
Summing up the firm’s involvement in the transaction, Glanz said: “We have been involved with New Hope since its listing on the ASX and are delighted to have assisted it in this landmark transaction. Clients such as New Hope, with quality resource portfolios, are well placed to benefit from the strong commodity cycle.”