Forrest v BHP may be start of green M&A fights – by James Thomson (Australian Financial Review – October 19, 2021)

BHP and Andrew Forrest’s battle over a small Canadian nickel hopeful isn’t going to be the last M&A fight sparked by the energy transition.

Tick. Tick. Tick. BHP has just five days to decide whether it wants to try to top Andrew Forrest’s offer for Canadian nickel hopeful Noront Resources, which won the backing of the minnow’s board on Monday night.

The smart money is on the Global Australian striking back, despite the full-court press Forrest has put on the Noront board. BHP chief executive Mike Henry is chasing future-facing commodities hard, and nickel, which is crucial to the production of batteries, is a prime target.

What’s more, Noront isn’t simply a one-mine prospect, but has the potential to be ground zero for the sort of multi-mine commodity basin that BHP loves. This is one M&A battle BHP won’t back down from quite yet.

Noront leapt to the attention of Australian investors in May when Forrest pitched its original takeover offer at C31.5¢ a share. In late July, BHP struck back, offering C55¢ in a deal that valued Norton at $C325 million ($351 million).

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