Tianqi Lithium, China’s largest lithium producer has won a strategic court order allowing the Chinese producer to become the second largest shareholder in South American lithium producer SQM.
SQM is the world’s second largest producer of lithium, which originally raised concerns amongst Chilean regulators regarding the Chinese competitor’s interest in the firm. Despite these concerns, the antitrust court of Chile has signed off on the $4.1 billion share acquisition, purchase from Canada based Nutrien.
One of the condition of the deal is that Tianqi will not be able to nominate any of its executives or employees to the SQM board, and must also inform regulators of any lithium deals with SQM or Albermarle.
SQM leadership had raised objections to the deal, with belief that the agreement would not sufficiently limit Tianqi’s access to commercial secrets held by SQM. South American lawmakers had also argued that the strategic ownership would allow China an unfair advantage in the global race to secure high grade lithium resources to fuel the electric vehicle surge.