Gina Rinehart takes second strategic stake in Australian lithium sector – by Harry Dempsey (Financial Times – October 27, 2023)

Billionaire acquires 18% of Azure Minerals after Chile’s SQM announces planned buyout

Billionaire Gina Rinehart has built up a strategic stake in Australian lithium developer Azure Minerals, threatening to scupper a second takeover involving the battery metal in a matter of weeks.

Chilean miner SQM said this week it had agreed to buy out Azure at an equity valuation of about $1bn. SQM, the world’s second-largest lithium producer, had bought a stake of almost 20 per cent in Azure in January to diversify beyond its home market.

However, Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting said on Friday it had acquired 18 per cent of Azure Minerals, just below the threshold at which it would have to make a full offer — repeating a tactic used to foil another deal in the sector in recent weeks.

Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer, walked away from a $4.2bn deal this month to buy Australian lithium mine developer Liontown Resources after Rinehart built her shareholding to 19.9 per cent.

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