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Nutrien to auction shares in SQM on 3 December

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World Fertilizer,

Reuters is reporting that Nutrien will auction its 23.77% share in SQM, the Chilean lithium producer, on 3 December.

The auction, announced on the Chilean stock exchange yesterday, will complete the sale of SQM to Tianqi, a Chinese lithium-focused company.

In a statement, the local stock exchange said the minimum bid would be set at US$65 per share, for a total package price of US$4.066 billion.

Tianqi struck a deal earlier this year to buy nearly a fourth of SQM from Nutrien, which must offload the stake to meet regulatory commitments after it was formed in January by the merger of Agrium and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan.

Nutrien has said it plans to use proceeds from the sale of stakes in SQM and two other companies in part to expand its network of farm retail stores in the United States, and to establish a network in Brazil.

Tianqi’s interest in SQM comes as Beijing is aggressively promoting electric vehicles, which require lithium batteries, to combat air pollution.

The deal to purchase the shares from Nutrien has overcome repeated legal challenges in Chile, whose authorities initially expressed concerns that a tie-up between Tianqi and SQM would give the Chinese company control of 70% of the global lithium market and unprecedented pricing power.

Tianqi, through Talison Lithium which it controls, is also in a JV with SQM´s top competitor, lithium producer Albemarle Corp in Australia, where they own the world’s biggest lithium mine, Greenbushes.

But a Chilean antitrust court blessed the transaction, placing conditions on the sale that limit Tianqi´s access to SQM business secrets and sensitive information.

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