RJB promises no closures: International groups shun coal sell-off as bid deadline closes

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The Independent Online
RJB MINING, which floated on the stock market last year, has tendered for all five British Coal regions and promised no closures or large-scale redundancies.

The company is thought to be the only bidder for all BC's 16 deep mines and 32 opencast pits. But with the sale expected to raise up to pounds 1bn there must be a question whether RJB could raise enough money. The bid deadline closed yesterday and, as expected, the big international mining groups have shunned the privatisation.

Richard Budge, RJB's chief executive, said he foresaw no mine closures; redundancies would be limited to management.

Taylor Woodrow, the construction company that pre-qualified for four regions has tendered for areas it declined to identify. Wimpey is also thought to have bid.

Several small mining operations and management buyout teams have bid for various regions. They include ScotCoal, formed by Miller Group and Ryan Group, which wants to buy the Scottish coal industry among others. Celtic Energy, a management/employee team, has bid for South Wales.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry described as speculation suggestions it was disappointed the large mining groups would not be bidding.

But an adviser to one of the tendering companies said: 'This is not a huge sell-off, but it is still an important sale and the Government would have liked the big international groups to have got involved.'

The Government is expected to announce a preferred bidder next month.