Canada’s PotashCorp must sell its interest in Chile’s SQM within 18 months of merging with Agrium, and Rio wants it.
Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) is said to be weighing an investment in Chile’s Chemical and Mining Society (SQM), the world’s largest lithium producer, becoming the latest in a long line of companies interested in grabbing a stake in the Santiago-based miner.
According to Chilean news site El Mostrador (in Spanish), the Anglo-Australian giant is eying the 32% interest in SQM that Canada’s Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX, NYSE:POT), the world’s largest producer of the fertilizer by capacity, has to sale to be allowed to merge with smaller rival Agrium (TSX, NYSE:AGU).
The Saskatoon-based potash miner is working with Goldman Sachs and BofA Merrill Lynch to sell its stake in SQM (worth about $4.5 billion at current market values), and so fulfill some of the conditions imposed by regulators in China and India to approve the company’s friendly merger with Agrium.
El Mostrador suggested Tinto Rio had already made a bid, potentially trumping Chinese companies Sinochem, Tianqi and GSR Capital, all of which had also expressed interest in SQM.
The news came on the heels of PotashCorp and Agrium announcing Tuesday that China’s ministry of commerce had approved the merger, but required the sale of PotashCorp’s minority holdings in Arab Potash Company and SQM within 18 months of closing, and Israel Chemicals Ltd. within nine months.
For the rest of this article: http://www.mining.com/rio-tinto-race-stake-worlds-largest-lithium-miner/