China Tianqi Lithium to Acquire Australia Essential Metals

In a sign of the warming up of ties between Australia and China, China Tianqi Lithium has made a bid to acquire Australia Essential Metals. The portfolio of Essential Metals includes the Kwinana refinery, Greenbushes plant and the Pioneer Dome Project.

Upon the announcement being made public, Essential Metals share price rose nearly 40% on Monday 9 January 2023. Initially, Tianqi Lithium offered 50 Australian cents per share, representing a significant premium over its price of 35 Australian cents on 6 January 2023. At this price, the transaction is valued at 136 million Australian dollars.

Tianqi Lithium has created a JV called Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia (TLEA) in partnership with Australia IGO. Tianqi holds the controlling majority share of 51% and IGO has the remaining 49% stake.

The Board of Directors of Essential Metals has already approved the sale. However, with #lithium being a strategic asset, the transaction necessitates the approval of the Australia Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Fortunately, recent developments seem to indicate that things might go through as Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in the margins of G20 in November 2022. Then, in December 2022, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong paid an official visit to Beijing, indicating that talks are moving along.

Recently, China Energy Investment Corporation placed an order for coal from Australia, after trade halted in 2020 due to deteriorating bilateral ties. In the same vein, it is worth noting that China is also a big buyer of iron ore from Australia.

If all goes well, the transaction is expected to materialize by May 2023. The JV will bring in fresh #FDI in order to capitalize on booming lithium prices resulting from the ramp up in the production of Electric Vehicles (#EV) to fight #ClimateChange.