China’s Tianqi Lithium has announced it plans to buy around a quarter of Chile’s Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM) for $4.1 billion (£3.2bn).
As well as declaring an intent to increase its access to the main ingredient in rechargeable phone and electric car batteries, the world’s second-largest lithium producer by sales has also filed for a $1 billion (£780m) listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
The sale will have to be approved by Chile’s anti-trust regulator as it would give Tianqi Lithium a near-controlling stake in its rival, potentially distorting the global market for the valuable resource.
It hopes to buy 62.5 million SQM shares from Canadian fertiliser firm Nutrien for a price of $65 (£50.60) each.
Nutrien CEO Chuck Magro has said he does not believe the acquisition will trigger competition concerns and added it would likely be completed by the fourth quarter of 2018.