Lithium-mining leader, Albemarle, is poised to acquire Australian lithium miner Liontown Resources in what could be their fourth attempt at a successful deal. This acquisition will not only boost Albemarle's lithium production but also cater to the increasing demand for electric vehicles worldwide.
On Sunday, Albemarle (ticker: ALB) announced a final nonbinding proposal to acquire Liontown (LTR.Australia) for 3 Australian dollars per share in cash, amounting to approximately $1.91. This offer values the development-stage miner at around 6.6 billion Australian dollars ($4.3 billion).
Following the announcement, Lionstown shares surged by 9% during overseas trading on Monday, rising from $2.62 to $2.85. It's worth noting that Lionstown shares have consistently traded above Albemarle's bid of $2.50 for several months. Currently, the stock stands at $2.78 in Tuesday's trading session, while Albemarle stock has witnessed a 1.1% drop in premarket trading. At the same time, futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are down by 0.1% and 0.2% respectively.
Despite the new proposed deal price, Lionstown's stock remains below it due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, the company must agree to the acquisition, and secondly, the deal is subject to approval by both the company and regulators, with a projected closure date in early 2024. Consequently, it will take some time for investors to receive cash for their shares.
Previously, Liontown had turned down bids at 2.20, 2.35, and 2.50 Australian dollars per share. The most recent bid prior to this came in at the end of March.
In a Sunday report, Citi analyst Kate McCutcheon emphasized the benefits of the "waiting game." Despite initially rating Liontown shares as "Sell" and claiming they were above her price target of 2.50 Australian dollars, McCutcheon upgraded the stock to "Hold" and raised her price target to 3 Australian dollars following Albemarle's latest bid. Adding to this, she stated, "We see the offer as bullish for lithium, signaling that the largest producer is keen to secure more supply at a premium, or has a bullish view on long-term price, with low jurisdictional risk."
Overall, Albemarle's potential acquisition of Liontown Resources showcases their commitment to securing lithium supply and their optimistic outlook on future lithium prices.
Albemarle Expands Lithium Production and Secures Supply Agreements
Albemarle, a global leader in the lithium industry, has announced plans to significantly increase its production capacity. The company expects to earn approximately double its cost of capital with lithium prices at $28,000 per metric ton. This will undoubtedly drive shareholder value, as Albemarle continues to outperform in a challenging market.
Australia, known for its low-risk mining environment, has attracted Albemarle's attention. The Liontown project in Kathleen Valley, located in Perth, Western Australia, is set to produce around 35,000 metric tons of lithium raw materials annually. Additionally, Albemarle's second project, the Buldania project in the Eastern Goldfields Province of Western Australia, holds promising potential, although its production capacity has yet to be determined.
One of the key factors adding to the value of Albemarle's projects is the supply agreements it has secured. Titan automakers Ford Motor and Tesla, as well as lithium-ion LG Energy Solution, have recognized the need to secure a stable lithium supply to meet the growing demand for electric vehicle (EV) batteries. With EV sales rising by approximately 25% in China, 45% in Europe, and nearly 50% in the U.S. in 2023, Albemarle's forward-thinking approach positions it well in this expanding market.
Currently, Albemarle has a lithium production capacity of approximately 225,000 metric tons per year. However, its ambitious plan is to triple this capacity by 2030. By significantly scaling up production, Albemarle aims to meet the soaring demand for lithium as the EV market continues to expand.
Although Albermarle's shares have experienced an 8% decline year-to-date due to lower lithium prices (falling from roughly $70,000 to $28,000 per metric ton), the company remains optimistic about its future prospects. The ever-shifting commodity market presents challenges for commodity-related stocks, but Albemarle's strategic initiatives and long-term vision position it as a frontrunner in the lithium industry.