Lithium miner SQM have challenged the terms and conditions of a deal between the Chilean anti-trust regulator and Chinese owned Tianqi Lithium. SQM’s lawyers say they have concerns regarding Tianqi’s plans to buy up to a quarter of SQM, in which the measures agreed upon would not be sufficient in protecting SQM’s commercially sensitive information.
“There is not much hope that these efforts to mitigate the effects of the deal will achieve the desired result,” said a lawyer for SQM.
Chilean watchdogs have been examining Tianqi’s bid to aquire the stake in SQM for $4.1B, which would give the Chinese miner a significant stake in one of the world’s largest lithium producers. Chile’s government say that their main complaint is that the deal with China would distort the global lithium market and could have a significant impact on the economy of electric vehicles and smart phone batteries.
The Chinese government have already set aggressive targets to promote electric vehicles, causing many combustion engine manufacturers to scramble their way to designing electric vehicle models.
“They’ve given Tianqi the gift of a deal that allows it to enter into ownership of a competitor,” the lawyer for Mr Ponce, the former chairman of SQM that has now rejoined the company in an effort to block the Tianqi deal.
Mr Ponce is the billionaire, former son-in law of Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet. He was forced to step down at SQM’s chairman in 2015 after news was released of his involvement in making payments to politicians.