June 20, 2013 / 2:27 AM / 4 years ago

Fortescue says needs more time to reach infrastructure sale

SYDNEY, June 20 (Reuters) - Fortescue Metals Group said the proposed sale of a stake in its rail and port assets in Australia's iron ore belt that could net up to A$4 billion ($3.8 billion) was on track, but would be delayed by some months.

"The level of interest generated has necessitated a longer period of evaluation than previously contemplated," Fortescue said in an update on its operations released to the Australian stock exchange.

"Based on the current status, if sanctioned, any transaction is likely to be announced in the September 2013 quarter," it said.

Fortescue has previously said it was aiming to sell a stake in its port and rail arm, The Pilbara Infrastructure (TPI), by the end of June to help it pay down A$3 billion to A$4 billion in debt as it looks to shore up its balance sheet in a volatile iron ore market.

Fortescue said on Thursday it was not under pressure to conclude a sale of an interest in TPI, adding that the process was "substantially advanced".

Fortescue shares fell 5.4 percent to A$3.17 in an overall market down about 2 percent.

$1 = 1.0486 Australian dollars Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin

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