Kiran Stacey China’s coal demand drives another M&A deal

Just two days ago the Wall Street Journal picked up on Chinese state media reports that the government was worried it might run out of coal. The paper reported:

State-run media reported that Beijing is considering capping domestic coal output in the 2011-2015 period, partly because officials worry miners are running down reserves too quickly to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding economy.

Those signals have been picked up by companies around the entire world, who are now clamouring to meet that demand.

On the same day, Vallar, Nat Rothschild’s cash shell, paid $3bn for Indonesia coal assets. At the time, the new company’s proposed CEO, Ari Hudaya, said:

It is a very exciting time to be a mining company in Indonesia. The fundamentals of the metals and mining sector are compelling, given the strength of demand from China and India, and we are ideally located to capitalise on that growing demand.

Now just two days later, another one pops up. This time the deal is on the other side of the planet, with Walter Energy, the US coal miner, bidding $3.3bn for Western Coal. Including Caterpillar’s $8.6bn deal for Bucyrus – much of whose income is driven by selling equipment to coal miners – that takes the  value of coal deals and potential deals this week alone to $15bn.

Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the action.