Australia’s Atlas Iron backs billionaire’s buyout offer – by Byron Kaye and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – June 28, 2018)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian iron ore miner Atlas Iron (AGO.AX) on Friday endorsed a A$390 million ($287 million) buyout from billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, taking the mining heiress closer to securing two key shipping berths in the west of the country.

A subsidiary of Rinehart’s company launched an unconditional cash bid for the miner last week, trouncing a A$280.2 million scrip offer made in April by Mineral Resources (MIN.AX) and prompting that company to cancel its bid.

A successful bid could open the door for Rinehart to develop two more berths at Port Hedland that are alongside her existing operations, as Hancock Prospecting moves into the next stage of expansion at its Roy Hill iron ore mine.

With the backing of the Atlas board, Rinehart is likely to gain more than 50 percent of the miner, giving her a controlling stake.

The board’s endorsement effectively neutralizes some recent moves by world No. 4 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.AX), controlled by another billionaire, Andrew Forrest, which amassed a 20-percent stake in Atlas.

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