Billionaire Who Made Killing on Cobalt Bets on Battery Fund – by Mark Burton and Javier Blas (Bloomberg News – August 8, 2017)

An investment firm founded by Russian billionaire Vladimir Iorich is following its winning bet on cobalt this year by creating a $150 million fund to buy into metals used in electric cars.

Pala New Energy Metals will invest in cobalt, lithium, vanadium, rare earths, nickel and tin. Pala Investments Ltd. started the fund with its own money and cash from other investors. The firm previously snapped up cobalt, anticipating surging demand from automakers that more than doubled prices in the past year.

“We have been focused on the evolution of the battery chemistries and this has allowed us to invest early in different components of the battery,” Stephen Gill, managing partner at Zug, Switzerland-based Pala Investments, said in an interview. “We hope to continue to be ahead of the curve as technologies evolve.”

The company was among investors to buy up physical cobalt before selling it for cash and shares in Cobalt 27 Capital Corp., listed in Canada this year to offer equity investors a way to take a stake in the market. In June, Pala said it had swapped 626 metric tons of cobalt for shares in Cobalt 27, making it the largest shareholder with 19.5 percent.

In total, the Toronto-listed firm, run by Pala Managing Director Anthony Milewski, bought 2,158.6 tons of cobalt for cash and shares, or about 2.5 percent of annual global demand. Spot prices have jumped almost 120 percent in the past year to $57,500 a ton.

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