MacArthur Coal will back down on plans to take over Gloucester Coal after the shareholders of Noble Group, the parent company of Gloucester, rejected Macarthur’s bid to acquire Noble’s 87.7% stake in the company.

Noble shareholders also rejected Macarthur’s offer to acquire Noble’s interests in its jointly owned Middlemount coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

Macarthur, the world’s largest exporter of pulverised coal required for making steel, has been offered a takeover bid of more than $3.4bn from two rival companies, Peabody Energy and New Hope.

The collapse of the Macarthur-Gloucester deal leaves Gloucester to consider Noble’s offer to buy out the rest of the company for $11.71 (A$12.60) a share in cash.

Macarthur produced 4.6 million tons of coal in 2009 while Gloucester produces annually a combined total of about 2.5 million tons of coking and thermal coal.