September 9, 2009 / 8:43 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-Teck says "not committed" to sale of coal stake

* Had eyed sale of 20 pct stake to help pay down debt

* Recent financing steps mean sale less urgent

* Shares rise 1.7 percent to C$28.02 (In U.S. dollars, unless noted)

TORONTO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Teck Resources TCKb.TO may decide not to sell a minority stake in its coking coal business, due to recent improvements in the company’s financial position and the prospects for higher coal prices, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

Teck had planned to sell at least a 20 percent stake in the business to help pay down $9.8 billion in debt taken on to finance the acquisition of Fording Canadian Coal Trust last year.

Metal prices tanked after the purchase was announced, while credit markets seized up, forcing Teck to scramble to raise funds to pay down the largely short-term debt.

But, since then, the company has sold off gold and power generation assets, issued $4.3 billion in longer-term bonds, and sold a 17 percent equity stake to state-owned China Investment Corp.

This has relieved the balance sheet pressure and meant the coal stake sale is no longer a necessity, Investor Relations Vice President Greg Waller told Reuters in an email.

“(We‘re) certainly much less motivated to (sell) as a result of the financing steps we have taken. And the outlook for the coking coal business is certainly good,” he said.

“Not committed to selling and we will only do so if we think the transaction will improve the business due to the relationship it would establish.”

Coking coal is used in the steelmaking process.

Chief Executive Don Lindsay has said Teck saw interest in the stake from potential buyers -- including customers -- in China, South Korean, Japan, Brazil and India.

Teck shares rose 48 Canadian cents, or 1.7 percent, to C$28.02 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

$1=$1.08 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson

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