Taylor Woodrow bids for Welsh pits: Construction group in consortium with Japanese and British partners ready for coal sell-off

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TAYLOR WOODROW, the construction group, is bidding to buy British Coal's South Wales region in conjunction with Mitsubishi of Japan and a private British mining firm, Kier Mining.

South Wales has nine opencast sites and is among the most attractive of the five coal regions being sold by the Government.

About eight organisations are believed to have bid for the South Wales mines, including Ryan Group. Ryan has tried to gain an edge over its rivals by agreeing a 10-year supply contract with National Power, Britain's biggest electricity generator, conditional on it winning the Welsh mines.

Taylor Woodrow, which already operates opencast mines in Wales and Northumberland under licence from British Coal, would not comment any further on its bid. Mitsubishi is one of only two foreign companies known to have bid for all or part of British Coal. The other is Alcan, the Canadian aluminium group, which is bidding with Ryan for mines in North-east England.

The Government hopes to announce its preferred bidders by the end of this month and complete the sale by the end of the year. Total proceeds from the privatisation of British Coal could be more than pounds 1bn, but this would include hundreds of millions of pounds from non-mining businesses being sold separately.

Among the companies bidding for mines are RJB Mining, which was floated on the stock market last year, and Coal Investments, the company set up by Malcolm Edwards, former commercial director of British Coal.

Separately, Taylor Woodrow is buying a 653-acre site at Palm Springs in Florida in a dollars 20m deal. The site, which will be developed with a local firm, Kenco Communities, has planning permission for 1,500 homes, a golf course, country club and sports club.