Chile will not block foreign sale of lithium producer SQM: minister – by Rod Nickel (Reuters U.S. – March 7, 2016)

http://www.reuters.com/

TORONTO – Chile would not block a foreign takeover of lithium and potash producer SQM SQMa.SN, Mining Minister Aurora Williams said on Sunday.

A stake in Chile-based SQM is up for grabs after an indirect shareholder, Oro Blanco ORO.SN, invited buyers in December to make an offer for its entire holding in Pampa Calichera CALa.SN.

Oro Blanco holds a little over 88 percent of Pampa Calichera, which in turn owns around 20 percent of SQM, a major producer of battery ingredient lithium and an important supplier of iodine and potash.

“Those are decisions to be made specifically by the company,” Williams said in an interview through an interpreter in Toronto during the annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention.

“In no way would we indicate to them or give our intentions as to how the company should be structured.”

The sale process comes after Julio Ponce, a former son-in-law of late dictator Augusto Pinochet, was forced to resign as SQM chairman last year after two separate scandals.

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