(Bloomberg) — Lithium mining giant SQM has won over Perth-based Azure Minerals Ltd. with a sweetened A$1.6 billion ($1 billion) cash offer, the latest deal as large battery-metal producers race to secure supply in Australia, home to some of the world’s richest deposits.
Azure’s board will back the new binding bid from SQM, which increased its cash offer by 52% to A$3.52 per share, the Australian producer said Thursday. That’s a 44% premium over Azure’s closing price on Oct. 20, and follows a previously rejected non-binding offer of A$2.31 made in August. The company’s shares jumped as much as 44% on Thursday to A$3.52, their highest price since June 2008.
The proposal comes amid a recent frenzy of interest in the Australian lithium sector among the world’s biggest mining heavyweights and battery manufacturers, as companies including Rio Tinto Plc and Tesla Inc. chase deals with firms with even early-stage or pre-production projects.
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