27/06/2018 - 15:10

FMG confirms Atlas port interest

27/06/2018 - 15:10

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Three weeks after acquiring a strategic blocking stake in Atlas Iron, Fortescue Metals Group has for the first time confirmed that its main interest in the takeover target is the rights to develop new berths at Port Hedland.

FMG confirms Atlas port interest
Atlas owns 63 per cent of North West Infrastructure, which was awarded rights a decade ago to develop a 50 million tonnes per year shipping facility at South West Creek.

Three weeks after acquiring a strategic blocking stake in Atlas Iron, Fortescue Metals Group has for the first time confirmed that its main interest in the takeover target is the rights to develop new berths at Port Hedland.

Andrew Forrest-led Fortescue released a statement today calling for further clarity from Atlas regarding its development rights at South West Creek, which is part of the famously congested inner harbour at Port Hedland.

Atlas owns 63 per cent of North West Infrastructure, which was awarded rights a decade ago to develop a 50 million tonnes per year shipping facility at South West Creek.

On June 14, the state government said NWI no longer held those priority development rights, a position Atlas said was contrary to its understanding.  

Fortescue purchased a 19.9 per cent stake in Atlas earlier this month, saying it did not intend to support a $280 million takeover offer from Chris Ellison-led Mineral Resources, which has since been topped with a $390 million bid from Hancock Prospecting.

Both Fortescue and Hancock subsidary Roy Hill Holdings have berths adjacent to South West Creek, while Mineral Resources has disclosed it is in discussions with the Pilbara Ports Authority to develop its own berth at South West Creek.

The port authority has previously gained environmental sapproval to develop four berths at South West Creek, with two to be used for general cargo and two reserved for 'junior miners'.

The government has not defined a 'junior miner' but its generally considered Fortescue and Hancock do not fit the definition. 

The news comes one day after Fortescue submitted an application to the Takeovers Panel questioning the veracity of the Hancock offer.

Fortescue's statement is reproduced below.

Fortescue Metals Group notes the statement by Atlas Iron on 14 June 2018 regarding notice received from the office of the Minister for Transport, Planning and Lands, which Atlas said implies that North West Infrastructure (NWI) does not have a priority right to develop the Stanley Point Berths 3 and 4 at South West Creek in the Port of Port Hedland.

“At the time of that announcement, Atlas advised shareholders that it was considering its position with respect to this notice.

“In common with other Atlas shareholders, Fortescue believes that further clarity is needed on the position of Atlas in relation to these assets and we continue to assess our strategic options regarding our shareholding in Atlas.”

 

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