Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart looks set to take control of junior Pilbara miner Atlas Iron after rival bidder Mineral Resources decided it would not make a counter offer.

An all cash bid worth $390 from a subsidiary of Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting was on Tuesday deemed by Atlas as superior to the $280 million all-scrip offer made by Mineral Resources in April.

The bid from mid-tier miner Mineral Resources was previously recommended by the Atlas board, and the company had until Thursday to make a counter proposal, but on Wednesday it said it had determined that it would not do so.

The offer from Hancock Prospecting’s Redstone represents a 44 per cent premium on the Atlas stock value before Ms Hancock and Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group each took a near-20 per cent stake in Atlas earlier this month, apparently in response to the Mineral Resources bid.

Announcing its increased shareholding on June 7, Fortescue said it did not intend to support the takeover offer by Mineral Resources, but gave no indication it would launch a rival bid.


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Atlas’ assets include a stake in a joint venture that holds rights to potentially valuable undeveloped port capacity in Port Hedland, which UBS analysts suggested may have been the focus of Fortescue’s interest.

Atlas shares jumped 22 per cent to 4.4 cents after the Hancock bid was announced on Monday, apparently in anticipation of an escalating bidding war.

They were up 1.1 per cent at 4.45 cents at 1455 AEST on Wednesday, while Mineral Resources shares were up 1.8 per cent at $16.44.