Futures & Commodities

Could a fight for Aussie iron ore assets be under way?

Aquila Resources deal is well timed: Analyst
Aquila Resources deal is well timed: Analyst

A $1 billion bid for Australian resources firm Aquila has refocused attention on the country's iron ore sector, with one analyst telling CNBC he would not rule out a rival offer for the company.

Baosteel, China's largest listed steelmaker and Australia's Aurizon on Monday launched a bid for Aquila Resources in a move that could open up a new iron ore export region to supply Asian steelmakers.

Read MoreChina's Baosteel, Aurizon offer $1 billion for Aquila Resources

"It's a very interesting asset, something the Chinese would love to get their hands on and their offer gives them a reasonable chance of acquiring the assets," Gavin Wendt, founding director and senior resource analyst at MineLife told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" Monday.

Baosteel and Aurizon are offering A$3.40 ($3.15) in cash per share for Aquila – a 39 percent premium to where Aquila shares traded on Friday, before the offer. Aquila shares soared 39 percent in Sydney on Monday to a high of A$3.41.

"You can't rule out the potential for rival offers," Wendt added. "You have to bear in mind that these are very good assets. Although they haven't been developed yet, finding a single vehicle that has high quality iron ore in a politically safe destination like Western Australia and also has high quality coking coal is few and far between."

A piece of raw iron ore is displayed.
Sergio Dionisio | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Acquiring Aquila would give Baosteel and Aurizon a half stake in the $7 billion Western Pilbara iron ore mine, port and rail project in Western Australia. Baosteel already has a 20 percent stake in Aquila.

Read MoreChina plans crackdown on iron ore import loans

The offer for Aquila reflects a move by Chinese companies buying up global resources.

China is the world's largest importer of iron ore and demand for resources to fuel economic growth in the world's second biggest economy, has prompted Chinese firms to snap up overseas assets in recent years.

Last month for instance, a Chinese consortium announced it would buy Glencore Xstrata's copper mine in Peru in a $6 billion all-cash deal.

What's behind China's interest for Aquila Resources?
What's behind China's interest for Aquila Resources?

Iron ore, a key ingredient used to make steel, has fallen roughly 21 percent so far this year, according to data from Thomson Reuters. This may have acted as an incentive for the Aquila bid, analysts say.

Read MoreChina to overtake US economy; India trumps Japan

"I think China is always looking to secure primary imports for its economy at good prices," said Jonathon Barratt, CIO at Ayers Alliance Securities, in Sydney. "To them, this represents a good price and hence they've made that bid."

"It's a game that's always been in play where China looks to recover and source good production," he added.

MineLife's Wendt added that there was a potential of a higher offer, possibly from rival Xstrata.

"We are starting to see Xstrata casting around for these exact same opportunities. The potential is that we could see an offer up at A$3.80, $4 if we see rival bidders come onto the scene because these are very good assets," he said.