| 24 July 2024, Wednesday |

Lithium developer Liontown backs Albemarle’s $4.3 billion bid

Liontown Resources (LTR.AX) shares rose 11.5% on Monday after the lithium developer’s board approved a revised A$6.6-billion ($4.3-billion) proposal from Albemarle Corp (ALB.N), the world’s largest producer of the battery material.

Emerging Australian lithium firms are seeing a rise in takeovers as their reduced valuations and finance requirements entice some of the world’s biggest lithium producers and others scrambling to get supply.

The revised cash offer of A$3 per share marks a 14.5% premium to Liontown’s final price of A$2.62 on September 1 and is 20% more than Albemarle’s late March offer of A$2.50 per share, which the target rejected as too low.

“The waiting game appears to have paid off,” observed Citigroup analysts.

“We see the offer as bullish for lithium, signaling that the largest producer is keen to secure more supply at a premium, or has a bullish view on long-term price with low jurisdictional risk.”

The offer was Albemarle’s fourth, after it proposed A$2.20 a share on Oct. 20 last year and A$2.35 in March, before the rejected offer of A$2.50 was made public.

Monday’s news drove Liontown shares to their highest since July 14, to stand at A$2.92.

Liontown said its board intended to unanimously recommend shareholders vote for the new offer in the absence of a superior proposal, and after completion of an independent expert’s report to examine the deal.

Albemarle has been granted a limited period of exclusive due diligence as well as to enter into a mutually acceptable scheme implementation deed, Liontown said in a statement.

Lithium is in hot demand for electric vehicle batteries, and projects in top supplier Australia have become more attractive than those in other major producer Chile, which detailed in April a plan to nationalise its industry.

Liontown controls two major lithium deposits in Western Australia, with first production set for mid-2024 from its flagship Kathleen Valley project, which is among the world’s largest and highest-grade hard rock lithium deposits.

Liontown also has supply deals with Ford Motor (F.N), Tesla (TSLA.O) and the battery unit of South Korea’s LG Chem (051910.KS).

Liontown said Greenhill & Co and UBS would act as financial advisers and Allens as its legal adviser for the revised proposal. JPMorgan and Barrenjoey are advising Albemarle.

  • Reuters