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Australia's Atlas Iron gets US$290m bid from Hancock Prospecting unit

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Gina Rinehart, the first woman to top Forbes Asia's list of Australia's richest people, is eyeing a 19.96% stake in Atlas through her firm Hancock Prospecting.

Sydney

ATLAS Iron Ltd said on Monday it received a A$389.7 million (S$391.0 million) offer from a unit of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, potentially setting off a three-way struggle for the iron ore miner.

Redstone Corporation, the Hancock unit, offered A$0.042 per share of Atlas, representing a premium of about 17 per cent to the miner's Friday close.

The offer trounces a A$280.2 million offer from Mineral Resources, made in April. Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals earlier this month disclosed a 19.9 per cent stake in Atlas that it said was large enough to block the planned takeover by Mineral Resources.

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Atlas Iron had earlier on Monday sought a trading halt of its shares pending an announcement regarding a "control transaction proposal".

Ms Rinehart last week joined those vying for control of Atlas, disclosing a 19.96 per cent stake in the company via Hancock Prospecting.

Shares in Atlas fell sharply last week, after it was notified that its North West Infrastructure (NWI) joint venture did not have priority rights to develop certain shipping berths at Port Hedland in Western Australia.

NWI, a joint venture with Brockman Mining and FerrAus, has the capacity to export 50 million tonnes of iron ore a year from the South-West Creek project at Port Hedland. REUTERS