Glencore to sell Australian coal train fleet within 3 months

Mining and commodities trader giant Glencore (LON:GLEN) expects to sell its Australian coal train fleet — called GRail — within the next three months, as part of its ongoing efforts to shore up its balance sheet.

The Swiss company, which put its Hunter Valley rail business on the block in March this year, hopes to fetch between $755 million to $1.1 billion (A$1bn to A$1.5bn) for the nine trains, which carry coal from mines in New South Wales to port operations on Australia's eastern seaboard.

Glencore expects to fetch between $755 million to $1.1 billion for the nine trains, which carry coal from mines in New South Wales to port operations on Australia's eastern seaboard.

GRail was set up in 2010, when existing services were inefficient and costly, a company spokesman told Platts.com, adding that the company has reduced the round trip journey time between Hunter Valley coal field and Newcastle port by 20% since then.

It is said that Glencore is offering potential buyers a contract that guarantees 40 million tons of carriage per year.

Aurizon, Asciano's Pacific National and US-listed Genesee & Wyoming made separate bids for fleet in an auction run by RBC Capital Markets Monday, along with a "bunch of infrastructure players including Morgan Stanley Infrastructure and Macquarie's MIRA," the Australian Financial Review reported (subs. required) quoting unnamed sources.

Falling metal prices hit Glencore’s shares hard last year as investors became concerned about its debt load. But a strong 2015 performance from its trading arm and an aggressive debt reduction plan has helped trigger a significant bounce in its shares so far in 2016.

The stock climbed 4.61% Tuesday, closing at 186p.