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SANTIAGO, Dec 15 (Reuters) - The sale of an indirect stake in Chile’s SQM, one of the world’s biggest producers of lithium and iodine, has ended without a successful buyer, after the owner of the stake said offers fell short.
The stake, valued at around $1.5 billion, was put up for sale around a year ago by Julio Ponce, SQM’s former chairman and one-time son-in-law of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Ponce put the stake on the block via vehicle Oro Blanco , which invited buyers to make an offer for its 88 percent interest in Pampa Calichera.
Pampa Calichera in turn owns about 23 percent of SQM .
Oro Blanco said on Thursday it had decided not to go ahead with the sale after no suitable offers were received.
The terms and conditions of the bids received “were not in the interests of the company or all its shareholders, while one of the conditions would have been impossible to comply with, so the board unanimously decided today to not continue with the process,” Oro Blanco said in a statement.
Shares in SQM fell around 7 percent after the announcement, while Oro Blanco plummeted 26 percent.
A successful sale could have potentially led to the buyer gaining control of SQM and its lucrative lithium and potash assets in northern Chile, had Ponce been prepared to sell his other shares. He currently is part of a controlling group alongside Japan’s Kowa.
Buyers known to be interested in the stake included Chinese lithium producer Tianqi and Chinese battery material firm Ningbo Shanshan. Canada’s Potash Corp, which already owns a 32 percent stake in SQM, had also been seen as a possible bidder.
Local media had reported that one bid had been contingent on SQM resolving an ongoing dispute with the state over royalty payments. (Reporting by Rosalba O‘Brien; Editing by Dan Grebler)