Tianqi Lithium to buy $4.1 billion stake in SQM


China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp. cleared a major hurdle in its bid to buy a $4.1 billion stake in SQM, the world’s second-largest producer of the mineral used in electric-vehicle batteries.
Chile’s constitutional court has declared inadmissible a suit questioning whether an agreement between Tianqi and Chile’s antitrust agency FNE went far enough to protect SQM’s trade secrets against its Chinese competitor.
Tianqi has agreed to buy a 24 percent shareholding in SQM from Nutrien Ltd. by December 13 and a decision by the Chilean court to look into the deal could have delayed the sale process beyond that deadline. Nutrien is selling the stake to comply with antitrust requirements set by India and China for a prior merger.
“Nutrien and Tianqi expect to close the transaction before the end of the year, as it had previously been announced,” the two companies said in a joint statement.
The Chinese company’s bid for the non-controlling stake raised concerns by Chilean antitrust authorities because of the lithium market shares of Tianqi and SQM, formally known as Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA. Last month, FNE announced it had reached a deal with Tianqi that included a number of provisions to prevent concentration in the global lithium market.
SQM and major shareholder and former chairman Julio Ponce raised concerns about the FNE decision.

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