China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp is looking to raise up to $US1 billion in its Hong Kong stock market flotation, despite this year’s fall in lithium prices, two people close to the deal told Reuters.
The company, the world’s second-largest lithium producer by sales, on Friday filed plans for Hong Kong’s second lithium listing this year. The draft prospectus was put on the Hong Kong exchange website late on Monday.
Tianqi, which is based in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan and is building the world’s biggest lithium processor in Western Australia, will list on the stock market later this year, the sources told Reuters.
The final deal size could be smaller than $US1 billion due to a steep drop in lithium carbonate prices, said the people, who declined to be named as the deal details are not public yet.
Tianqi declined to comment.
On Tuesday, its shares were 0.38 per cent lower in Shenzhen at 38.90 yuan.
Lithium is a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries and China has aggressively promoted electric vehicles to combat air pollution and help domestic carmakers leapfrog the combustion engine to build global brands.
The Tianqi float, however, comes at a critical time for the lithium market worldwide. Prices of lithium carbonate have fallen as much as 38 percent so far this year due to a raft of new supply that has raised concerns about a short-term surplus.
Nevertheless, demand for lithium is expected to rise in the long term as a cadre of automobile manufacturers led by Tesla and Volkswagen, among others bring electric cars to the mainstream market.
Shenzhen-listed Tianqi’s domestic counterpart - Ganfeng Lithium - delayed its Hong Kong listing plans earlier this summer as it waited for the lithium price to stabilize, according to Thomson Reuters publication IFR.
It also now plans a float of up to $US1 billion in Hong Kong later this year.
Tianqi’s proposed listing comes after its blockbuster $US4.1 billion deal to buy a 24-percent stake in Chile’s Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (SQM), the world’s second-biggest lithium miner, in May.
The majority of Tianqi’s listing proceeds will be used for refinancing the SQM stake purchase, the company said in its draft prospectus.
The firm posted a 40-percent jump in annual revenue in 2017 to 5.47 billion yuan ($US796 million), primarily from making and selling lithium compounds and derivatives. It reported 3.34 billion yuan in profit, almost double that in 2016.
Tianqi, whose shares have almost halved from a peak of 73.39 yuan in September last year, makes a variety of raw materials for the battery industry. Its lithium project in Australia produces hard rock lithium, primarily for export to China.
Its planned float is also the latest on a packed Hong Kong listing calendar for the coming months, including a $US4 billion deal from online food delivery-to-ticketing services platform Meituan Dianping and a $US1 billion listing of popular hotpot chain Haidilao.
Escalating Sino-U.S. trade tensions are, however, making investors more cautious toward new listings. Tit-for-tat tariffs from Washington and Beijing have roiled global markets, with the Hang Seng Index down 18 percent from its January peak.
Tianqi has hired CLSA and Morgan Stanley as co-sponsors for the listing.