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Hancock’s $1.7b lithium play put to vote

Lynas Rinehart

Azure Minerals shareholders are set to vote on the Hancock Prospecting-Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) takeover bid in early April.

Should shareholders accept the offer, SQM and Hancock will be one step closer to acquiring 100 per cent of Azure’s shares as joint bidders, tipped at $3.70 per share.

The new offer replaced SQM’s original $1.63 billion takeover bid made in October, which was swiftly followed by Hancock acquiring an 18 per cent stake in Azure.

If the vote is unsuccessful, the duo will make an off-market takeover offer for a cash amount of $3.65 per share.

Should the off-market takeover offer not succeed or be withdrawn, SQM will be required to proceed with its original takeover bid as planned.

The Supreme Court of Western Australia ordered that the date of the vote be set for April 8 2024 at 10:00am Perth time, with the cut off to register on April 6 at 4:00pm.

Deloitte Corporate Finance was brought on as an independent expert and has since found the offer is in the best interests of Azure shareholders.

Hancock has urged Azure shareholders to accept the offer after Azure’s own calculations valuing its Andover lithium project at up to $1.4 billion place Azure’s valuation range at approximately $2.40–3.50 per share.

The Azure board has continued to voice its support of the takeover and has encouraged shareholders to vote in favour of the bid.

“The transaction delivers a fantastic outcome for Azure shareholders, including a significant uplift in value from the original SQM transaction despite elevated market volatility and the recent deterioration in lithium prices,” Azure managing director Tony Rovira said at the time the bid was launched.

“The transaction also represents a great outcome for the wider stakeholders in Andover, who will benefit from the significant financial strength and expertise of one of Australia’s largest and most well-respected mining and exploration companies, Hancock, combining with SQM to oversee successful development of Andover.

“We encourage all Azure shareholders to support the transaction.”

The transaction has already shored up support from major investors including Yandal Investments and Delphi Group, who have both indicated they intend to vote in favour of the sale.

The heart of Azure’s attraction lies with its Andover project covering 108 square kilometres of prime Pilbara land, boasting robust infrastructure and up to a 240 million-tonne grading.

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