Home Business Lithium Americas split to boost focus on Thacker Pass lithium project

Lithium Americas split to boost focus on Thacker Pass lithium project

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Lithium Americas Corp is splitting itself in two, a step designed to jumpstart development of its flagship North American mine while giving partner Ganfeng Lithium Co Ltd wider berth to develop South American lithium projects.

Shares of the Vancouver-based company rose nearly 6% on the news.

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The move, which had been expected, comes as the company’s Thacker Pass lithium project in Nevada has yet to sign lithium supply deals with electric vehicle makers even as nearby rivals ioneer Ltd and others have inked multiple supply contracts.

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While the Thacker Pass project is mired in legal proceedings, the affiliation with China-based Ganfeng had likely raised concerns among some automakers and may have posed an impediment to garnering U.S. government financial support, analysts said.

“A number of the parties looking at Thacker Pass are keenly focused on having a North American focused supply chain,” said Canaccord Genuity Capital Markets analyst Katie Lachapelle.

The split will separate the North American and Argentine business units into two independent companies publicly listed in Toronto and New York by the end of next year.

Shareholders will receive shares in both companies commensurate to their existing holdings.

“Separating the North American and Argentine businesses will facilitate unlocking the full potential of their significant asset base to deliver maximum value to our shareholders,” said Jon Evans, the current CEO, who will remain with the North America spinoff.

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Ganfeng is the largest Lithium Americas shareholder. It was not immediately clear if Ganfeng would sell its shares in the new North American company. Neither Ganfeng nor Lithium Americas were immediately available to comment.

The Argentina-focused company will be called Lithium International and will be focused on the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium brine project, which is expected to be online soon.

The North America focused company is expected to retain the Lithium Americas name. (Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru and Ernest Scheyder in Houston; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Bernadette Baum)

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