© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lithium producer Livent Corp’s processing plant is seen in Belmont, Gaston County, North Carolina, U.S. July 15, 2021. Picture taken July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder
By Scott Murdoch and Melanie Burton
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Investors in Australian lithium producer Allkem voted on Tuesday to accept a $10.6 billion merger offer from U.S. giant Livent (NYSE:) that would create one of the world’s biggest lithium companies.
Allkem said in a regulatory filing that 72% of shareholders who voted on the deal were in favour of the transaction, with nearly 90% of the total number of votes cast for the deal to proceed.
Livent last week said it had received all regulatory approvals for the deal, which will create a company called Arcadium Lithium. Its shareholders will vote later on Tuesday.
Arcadium Lithium will have a sprawling footprint across major producing regions Australia, Argentina and Canada, and will operate across the supply chain from mining to delivering finished chemicals to battery-maker customers.
The mega deal is set to be one of the first to be completed among a wave of dealmaking activity that has crescendoed as lithium prices tanked this year, with companies overlooking slower-than-expected electric vehicle uptake to bank on long-term demand.
“It has been a tough year for the lithium industry,” Allkem Chairman Peter Coleman said at the shareholder meeting.
In Australia, Chile’s SQM and Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, on Tuesday sweetened to A$1.7 billion ($1.14 billion) a bid for lithium developer Azure Minerals.
Under the Allkem-Livent deal, Allkem shareholders will get one share in Arcadium Lithium for each of their shares, and they will ultimately own 56% of the new firm.
Livent shareholders will get 2.406 shares in the new firm for each existing share and Livent CEO Paul Graves will take the top job.
The new company will be the world’s third-biggest producer of the key metal used in EV batteries, behind U.S.-based Albemarle (NYSE:) and Chile’s SQM.
The transaction was recommended by independent experts in a report compiled by financial advisers Kroll. Major proxy advisory firms also recommended investors vote in favour of the deal.
Livent’s Graves told Reuters in November the new company would be keen to expand its existing asset base in Western Australia’s world-class lithium districts.