Tianqi Lithium inches nearer to Australian stake sale close

The Greenbushes lithium mine, about 250km south of Perth, is the world’s biggest hard-rock lithium mine. (Image courtesy of Talison Lithium)

China’s Tianqi Lithium said on Monday it would close the sale of a stake in its Australian operations by June 30 after winning conditional approval on restructuring from Canberra and agreeing to split a possible tax bill with buyer IGO Ltd.

Heavily indebted Tianqi, one of the world’s top producers of lithium chemicals used in electric-vehicle batteries, is pocketing a much-needed $1.4 billion from the sale, agreed in December, of 25% in the Greenbushes mine and 49% in the Kwinana processing plant in Western Australia.

The company said in a filing on Monday it had on June 9 received a so-called no objection notification from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board on the internal transfer of Kwinana to Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia (TLEA), provided this complies with tax regulations.

Given the Australian Taxation Office may need a long time to decide whether the transfer is exempt from capital gains tax, however, Tianqi and Perth-based IGO – which is taking 49% in TLEA – have signed a tax-sharing agreement that will allow them to complete their transaction by June 30, Tianqi said.

Under the agreement, IGO will shoulder 49% of any tax bill up to a stipulated maximum amount, Tianqi said, without giving a value.

(By Tom Daly; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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