Home > Mergers & Acquisitions > Arch to Buy International Coal for $3.4bln

Arch to Buy International Coal for $3.4bln

May 3, 2011

“Arch Coal Inc. said it will acquire International Coal Group Inc. for $3.4 billion, becoming the latest coal producer seeking to secure reserves and take advantage of rising prices in the market for metallurgical coal used by steelmakers. St. Louis-based Arch said the all-cash deal will create the fourth-largest coal producer globally and the second-largest U.S. producer of metallurgical coal. The appetite for the relatively scarce, deep-mined form of coal is driven by infrastructure growth in emerging economies like China, India and Brazil.

The deal will enable Arch, which has significant port and barge capacity, to boost exports of high-quality metallurgical coal currently produced by ICG, said Steven F. Leer, Arch’s CEO, in an interview. ‘They bring products we don’t have, and we bring infrastructure that they don’t have,’ Mr. Leer said. ‘It becomes a hand-in-glove fit.’ The combined company would have total shipments of 179 million tons of coal, based on 2010 results, including metallurgical and thermal coal.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, May 3 2011

Observations:

  • Both global steam coal (power generation) demand and metallurgical coal (steel making) demand are expected to rise strongly in the coming decade on the back of strong growth of BRIC-countries. As these countries will not be able to satisfy the domestic demand, imports will increase. This repositions North America as a potential large exporter of coal.
  • The announcement of the acquisition coincides with Massey’s report of a quarterly loss, indicating the cost pressure the industry in the USA is experiencing. Massey will likely be bought by Alpha Natural Resources for $7.1bln, creating a big competitor to the Arch-International combination.

Implications:

  • Arch expects annual cost savings of $70-80mln, justifying a premium of approx. $1bln over ICL’s pre-announcement market cap of $2.2.bln. However, in mid 2010 market cap was as low as $1.0bln. Additional revenue-enhancing synergies as discussed by mr. Leer are required to create value for Arch’s shareholders.
  • Most current merger and acquisition attempts in the US coal market are largely synergy driven. The American market lagged earlier consolidation trends in the global industry, leaving merger opportunities on the table in an industry with many small players. At the end of this wave of consolidation most likely some 2-4 large American coal miners will be created, potentially with strong cross-border activities in Canada.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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