Lithium developer Liontown backs Albemarle’s sweetened $4.3 billion offer

(Reuters) -Australian lithium developer Liontown Resources said on Monday its board had recommended an improved takeover proposal from the world’s biggest lithium producer Albemarle Corp valuing the company at A$6.6 billion ($4.26 billion).

The new cash offer price of A$3 per share represents a premium of 14.5% to Liontown’s last closing price of A$2.62 on Sept. 1 and is 20% higher than Albemarle’s A$2.50 per share offer made in late March that the target had rejected as too low.

Liontown said its board intended to unanimously recommend shareholders vote in favour of the new takeover proposal, adding that an independent expert concluded that it was in the best interests of shareholders.

The company will permit Albemarle to conduct a limited period of exclusive due diligence as well as to enter into a mutually acceptable scheme implementation deed, it said in statement.

Emerging Australian lithium companies are witnessing a surge in buyouts as their lower valuations and cash needs attract some of the world’s top producers of the battery material and other suitors who are racing to secure supplies.

Liontown controls two major lithium deposits in Western Australia, including its flagship Kathleen Valley project slated for first production in mid-2024, which is among the world’s largest and highest-grade hard rock lithium deposits.

Albemarle’s latest offer for Liontown was its fourth, having also proposed A$2.20 per share on Oct. 20 last year and A$2.35 per share earlier in March before its rejected A$2.50 a share offer was made public.

Liontown said Greenhill & Co and UBS would act as financial advisers and Allens as its legal adviser in relation to the revised proposal.

($1 = 1.5504 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Poonam Behura; Editing by Kim Coghill, Christian Schmollinger and Jamie Freed)