Whitehaven rises on Chinese takeover rumors

Shares in Whitehaven (ASX:WHC) have lifted following speculation that the beleaguered Australian coal miner has entered discussions with China's Shenhua Group about a possible take-over.

Whitehaven shares have taken a beating in the past several months due to both ailing coal prices and concerns about the 21.4% stake in the company held by largest shareholder Nathan Tinkler, whose onerous debt woes threaten to capsize his business empire.

Shares in the coal producer rose 5% in Wednesday morning trading,

Fairfax reports that Shenhua Group, China's largest coal producer, is rumored to have approached Whitehaven with an offer to sell its Watermarket coal assets in exchange for equity.

Whitehaven has officially denied such rumors, saying in a statement that any discussions with Shenhua are part of routine protocol, and that there have been "no proposals from Shenhua to sell its assets to Whitehaven, nor has there been any proposal from Shenhua to acquire Whitehaven."

The Australian Financial Review has reported that Whitehaven rebuffed an approach from Shenhua to purchase some of its coal assets, requesting that the state-owned giant return with a full takeover bid.