Australia's Ausdrill rejects improved Macmahon bid

Ausdrill Ltd, an Australian mining services contractor, advised shareholders to reject a sweetened takeover offer from rival Macmahon Holdings Ltd, worth around A$440m ($383m), saying it was set to report a big profit rise.

Ausdrill's directors and other shareholders holding at least 25% of the stock would not accept the offer, according to Ausdrill Chairman Terry O'Connor.

Macmahon earlier on Wednesday lifted its offer to 1.65 of its shares for every Ausdrill share, declaring it final. The new bid was raised from 1.45 Macmahon shares previously.

O'Connor in a statement said that Ausdrill was in its best shape ever and set to report a "substantial increase in its net profit."

Ausdrill was formed two decades ago to supply services such as staffing and trucking to gold miners in the Australian outback. Macmahon's overtures coincide with Ausdrill's push deeper into Africa's mining sector.

Macmahon earlier on Wednesday reported a 9.7% year-on-year rise in net profit to A$48.76m.

It also said it held about A$2.1bn in orders, with mining heavyweights including BHP Billiton Ltd/Plc, Rio Tinto Ltd, Xstrata Plc.

Macmahon has forecast profit growth in the range of 20 to 30% this financial year, subject to the timing of new work, which could drive profit to about A$60m in 2009.

Another mine services company, Ausenco saw its annual profit rise 55% to A$28m.

by James Regan; editing by James Thornhill.