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China, Aditya Birla Group said to eye bids for Rio Australia coal mines

MUMBAI/HONG KONG: China's state-owned Shenhua Group Corp Ltd and Aditya Birla Group are among the companies considering bids for Rio Tinto's Australian coal assets, which have an estimated value of $3.2 billion, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The coal stakes are among a string of assets Rio is offloading as its new chief executive, Sam Walsh, seeks to raise funds to help cut the company's $26 billion in debt and protect its single-A credit rating. 

Rio Tinto is selling a 29 percent stake in its Coal & Allied business and its majority stake in the Clermont mine in Queensland state, with preliminary bids due this week, one person with direct knowledge of the matter said. 

Coal IndiaBSE -1.14 % Ltd, the world's largest coal producer, is also expected to bid, the person said. 

Rio Tinto, Aditya Birla Group and Coal India declined to comment, while Shenhua was not available for a comment. Sources declined to be identified as the sale process is confidential.