Universal Coal (ASX: UNV, from Johannesburg, South Africa, the company has responded to media speculation.
The statement issued by Universal Coal is as follows:
Universal Coal plc advises the company is reviewing the appointment of advisors to assist with informal approaches regarding its coking coal projects in the north of South Africa.
The company expects increasing interest in these assets, and as a result, and following a number of informal approaches and discussions from groups within the steel sector, Universal may appoint specialist advisors to assist in securing a strategic investor for the coking and thermal coal assets.
Universal has not received a formal statement or offer from any party regarding these assets. The company continues to be in discussions with various equity investors and industrial groups in the steel and power generation sectors regarding its operations in South Africa as part of its ongoing investor relations and communications programs.
In December 2011, Universal advised shareholders that the company's two early-stage coking coal exploration projects in South Africa's Limpopo province were likely to be the catalyst for substantial and increasing investor interest during 2012.
The company said in December that the Berenice-Cygnus project, in particular, with a gross in situ resource of 1.3Bt declared from the first phase of drilling, was already attracting interest.
Berenice-Cygnus, situated in the emerging Soutpansberg Coalfield near the Mozambique and Zimbabwe borders, is located 30km from a railway siding linked to both Maputo and Richards Bay ports. A second phase of drilling is scheduled to begin in early 2012, and a scoping study commenced in late 2011 at the project.