Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has become a substantial shareholder in Liontown Resources, snapping up 7.72 per cent of ordinary shares.
According to the Australian Financial Review, this may set the scene for Hancock launching a rival bid to acquire Liontown.
Liontown announced on September 4 that, after almost a year of discussions, Albemarle would move forward with its $6.6 billion acquisition of the company. Albemarle was the only one in the running– until now.
The news of Hancock’s shareholding came just hours after Albemarle began its four-week long due diligence into Liontown.
“Liontown and Albemarle have now agreed the terms of that non-disclosure and exclusivity agreement, and Albemarle is expected to commence its due diligence shortly,” Liontown said.
“It is expected that Albemarle’s due diligence will take approximately four weeks. That due diligence will be on an exclusive basis, subject to customary fiduciary exceptions.”
Hancock cited Liontown’s Kathleen Valley lithium project in WA as one of the main reasons for its updated shareholding.
“The project is a prospective high quality hard-rock lithium deposit in its development phase, which whilst still having a number of significant risks including resource conversion, construction execution and metallurgical recovery, has the potential to operate at scale,” the company said.
“Hancock can contribute to Liontown’s future direction alongside other Liontown shareholders, including in relation to potential investment opportunities for downstream value add in WA.”
While no rival bid has come from Hancock yet, it may only be a matter of time.
Albemarle has been gunning for Liontown since October 2022 when it submitted an offer of $2.20 per share. Liontown rejected the bid, and Albemarle let dealings cool off before submitting a second bid for $2.35 per share on March 3, 2023.
That too was rejected, and Albemarle submitted a revised offer for $2.50 per share, which was again knocked back.