By St. Louis Business Journal

Peabody Energy will now become 100 percent owner of Macarthur Coal after ArcelorMittal pulled out of their joint $5 billion bid for the Australian coal miner.

Peabody Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Gregory Boyce said his company preferred it that way anyway, raising questions about whether this move was planned all along.

⿿While we anticipated a positive joint venture with ArcelorMittal, we have always preferred a larger ownership," Boyce said. "We partnered with ArcelorMittal to increase the likelihood of achieving control of Macarthur, which has now occurred. ArcelorMittal's decision accelerates our ability to realize synergies, integrate the operations and benefit from results.⿝

The news comes just a day after Peabody and ArcelorMittal said they gained a majority stake of 59.85 percent in Macarthur. That is more than the 50.01 percent stake that Peabody and ArcelorMittal had set as a minimum to make the acquisition unconditional. Peabody said it planned to appoint representatives to the Macarthur board on Wednesday.

ArcelorMittal said it "determined that it would no longer be appropriate to allocate substantial capital to the acquisition of a non-controlling, minority business interest" and that it "believes that it is more appropriate to focus its capital elsewhere in its business."

"ArcelorMittal considers that the capital commitment that would be required to retain its Macarthur interest and grow it materially further, exceeds what is appropriate to allocate to a business that ArcelorMittal does not fully control and consolidate," the company said in a statement.

Pete Ward, an analyst with Jefferies and Co., said he thinks the simpler structure benefits Peabody.

"The simpler structure will better position them to extract operational and marketing synergies with their other Australian operations," he said.

ArcelorMittal must continue to fund its share of the joint bid obligations for up to 90 days, which will cover all takeover acceptances, Peabody said. To finance the Macarthur acquisition, Peabody is obtaining a new senior unsecured term loan of up to $1 billion and intends to fund its requirements related to the acquisition with cash and debt.

Peabody is going after Macarthur to secure Australian coal to fuel demand in Asia.

Also today, Peabody (NYSE: BTU) reported its third-quarter financial results. The St. Louis-based coal miner reported a profit of $274.1 million, up 22 percent from $224.1 million in the prior-year quarter. Revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose 9 percent to $2.04 billion, compared with $1.86 billion a year earlier.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010