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Chinese battery maker gatecrashes Aussie lithium bid

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Electric cars may be struggling to build sales momentum, but that’s not stopping Chengdu Tianqi Industry from making a bold bet that demand for lithium-powered products can only go in one direction – up.

The Chinese battery maker on Monday gatecrashed US chemical maker Rockwood Holding’s bid for Perth-based miner Talison Lithium with a C$806m ($803.3m) takeover offer. The bid, at C$7.15 a share, represents a 10 per cent premium to Rockwood’s C$724m (or C$6.50 a share) bid.

It is not clear if the higher bid from Tianqi will be enough to secure Talison given that the Toronto-listed miner already accepted Rockwood’s offer earlier this August.

From Talison:

The Talison board will meet in the near future to consider the Tianqi proposal but is not yet in a position to make a determination as to whether that proposal is a “Superior Proposal” as defined in the Scheme Implementation Agreement, or reasonably likely to lead to a “Superior Proposal”. Under the terms of the Scheme Implementation Agreement, Talison is at present prohibited from discussing or negotiating the Tianqi proposal or granting due diligence access, as contemplated in the Tianqi proposal. In the meantime, the Scheme Implementation Agreement remains in effect, and there can be no certainty that a transaction giving effect to the Tianqi proposal will be pursued or implemented.

In any case, Tianqi appeared to be set on taking on Rockwood. The Chinese company said in a statement that it has amassed a 15 per cent stake in Talison and has agreed to acquire a further 1.14 per cent stake in the business.

Talison is the largest miner of battery-grade lithium ores. Prices for the conductive metal have tripled since 2000 as its usage expanded in everything from vehicles to electronics.
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