November 17, 2010 / 8:11 PM / in 7 years

Coal miner Massey's CEO says seeking acquisitions

* Says actively looking to make acquisitions

* No comment on India, Alpha, ArcelorMittal interest

* Stock rises 2.7 percent

By Steve James

NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Massey Energy Co MEE.N, thought to be a takeover target after revealing it was mulling strategic options, is looking to make acquisitions of its own, the coal mining company’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

“There will be a separate focus on M&A (mergers and acquisitions) and joint venture opportunities,” Don Blankenship told a Dahlman Rose & Co mining industry conference.

During a presentation to investors, Blankenship said the U.S. coal industry is ripe for consolidation, especially in Central Appalachia, where producers are facing permitting, capital and liquidity constraints .

“Massey is prepared to use a portion of cash reserves for acquisitions,” he said.

The comments came a few days after India’s state-run Coal India Ltd (COAL.BO) said it was in talks to buy mines from Massey and another U.S. coal producer, Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N).

Blankenship did not mention the Indian interest nor reports that rival Alpha Natural Resources Inc ANR.N and giant steelmaker ArcelorMittal ISPA.AS were eyeing a takeover of Massey.

Roger Hendriksen, a spokesman traveling with Blankenship, declined comment on Coal India or on recent Wall Street Journal reports linking Massey to Alpha Natural and ArcelorMittal.

Last month, Massey said its board was considering strategic options after posting a wider-than-expected third-quarter loss as a result of an explosion that killed 29 miners at one of its West Virginia mines in April. The company’s management has also faced tough scrutiny from shareholders because its stock fell some 30 percent following the accident.

Asked on Wednesday about the company’s future direction, Blankenship said Massey presented a 5-year plan every year and the only difference this year was that it was looking at M&A.

During a panel discussion at the conference, Ted O‘Brien, vice president of Doyle Trading Consultants, which specializes in coal, said consolidation is a key issue for the industry right now.

”Massey has gotten a lot of attention and we have seen articles linking them with Alpha Natural and Arcelor etc.

“But they are not the only company that could be involved with M&A. The U.S. coal market has a lot of room for consolidation,” O‘Brien said.

In afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Massey shares were 2.7 percent higher at $47.43. (Reporting by Steve James, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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