SYDNEY, May 29 (Reuters) - Chinese steel giant Baosteel and Australia's Aurizon Holdings Ltd said on Thursday they have cleared a key regulatory hurdle to proceed with a $1 billion takeover of Australian explorer Aquila Resources Ltd.
The approval from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) puts Baosteel and rail company Aurizon one step closer to securing their own iron ore, which means relying less on top suppliers Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.
In a joint statement, Baosteel and Aurizon said they each received letters from the FIRB saying it had no objection to the deal. There are no Chinese regulatory hurdles for the sale, the companies added.
The FIRB clearance meant there were fewer conditions associated with the offer, which now only needs 50 percent shareholder approval to proceed, they added.
Baosteel and Aurizon said they would soon send Aquila shareholders a bidders statement.
Aquila shares were trading steady at A$3.51 at 05.14 GMT, a premium to the takeover offer of A$3.40 per share. Aurizon shares were down 4 cents at A$4.90. (Reporting By Byron Kaye; Editing by Miral Fahmy)