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SYDNEY, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Australia's Asciano Ltd, the target of a A$9 billion ($6.5 billion) takeover battle that has seen rival bidders merge to make a joint assault, on Wednesday posted a 5.3 percent rise in first-half net profit after increasing coal haulage.
Asciano, Australia's biggest rail and port operator, reported statutory net profit of A$199.8 million in the six months to Dec. 31, compared with A$189.7 million a year earlier.
Revenue fell 4.3 percent to A$1.85 billion as strong coal volumes in Queensland state were offset by flat or soft volumes elsewhere in the country.
Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc and Australian cargo handler Qube Holdings Ltd said on Tuesday they were weighing a joint bid for Asciano.
Reporting by Jane Wardell; Editing by Mark Heinrich