5 Oct 2016

Bids close on Solid Energy's assets

7:44 am on 5 October 2016

The defunct state coal miner Solid Energy says bids to buy its assets have now closed.

The company is for sale after going out of business due to unpayable debts which had risen to $399 million by 2013 and were at $347 million last year.

Merchant bank Goldman Sachs has been trying to sell off the assets of the company.

Solid Energy chairman Andy Coupe said the sales process had generated an encouraging level of interest from potential customers.

He said all land, mines and other assets were for sale, but he did not give specifics on what offers had been received. He expected to be in a position to make a statement about the successful bidder or bidders from late October.

"This first phase (of the sale process) has run to schedule and has delivered an encouraging level of interest in the company's assets," Mr Coupe said.

"There is now a complex evaluation process to work through, to assess the most favourable option.

"Because assets have been offered for sale as a whole or in parts, various sale configurations are possible, each with different outcomes.

"We will be making a further statement, including the next steps for the company wind down, once that evaluation process has concluded."

A recent rise in coal prices after years of decline had been helpful, but there were still competing coal mining assets for sale around the world and prices remained volatile, he said.

Meanwhile, the company's chief executive Dan Clifford has announced his resignation effective from the middle of next month. Chief operating officer Tony King is to step into the role.

Solid Energy's collapse was matched by similar failures in several other countries, including Australia and the United States, as coal prices fell steadily from 2011 to the start of this year, when they started rising again.

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