October 24, 2017 / 1:59 AM / 10 months ago

China's Sinochem says no plans to bid for stake in Chilean lithium producer SQM

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s state-owned Sinochem Group on Tuesday appeared to deny a media report that it was bidding for a stake in Chilean lithium producer SQM being sold by Canada’s PotashCorp.

“Up until now, neither Sinochem Group nor our subsidiaries have had such intentions or plans,” the company said in response to a request for comment from Reuters.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that Sinochem, a Beijing-based chemicals and oil conglomerate, was among four Chinese bidders for a $4 billion stake in Chile’s Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (SQM), one of the world’s largest lithium producers. It cited people familiar with the process.

Lithium is a key raw material for batteries in electric vehicles, which are enjoying a massive rise in popularity in China.

The other Chinese bidders named by the Financial Times were Ningbo Shanshan, Tianqi Lithium and GSR Capital.

Ningbo Shanshan also said that it was not participating in a bid to acquire equity in SQM, while Tianqi Lithium and GSR Capital did not respond to requests for comment.

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc was in September reported to have hired Goldman Sachs and BofA Merrill Lynch to explore selling its 32 percent stake in SQM.

Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Joseph Radford

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