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Tianqi Lithium revives plans for Hong Kong listing

Kitco News

* Shenzhen-listed Tianqi had sought $1 bln HK flotation in 2018

* Revival comes as lithium prices surge on rebounding EV demand

* Tianqi's market cap is around $30 bln, Refinitiv Eikon data show

(Adds detail, background) By Tom Daly Sept 13 (Reuters) - Tianqi Lithium's board of directors have unanimously approved a proposal to list shares in Hong Kong, the Chinese company said on Monday, reviving plans for a flotation it originally sought to make three years ago.

One of the world's top producers of lithium chemicals for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, Tianqi was looking to raise up to $1 billion in a Hong Kong flotation in 2018 but shelved the plans as lithium prices tanked and its liquidity situation worsened.

Tianqi plans to use proceeds from the share sale to repay debt, expand capacity and boost working capital, the company said in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, where it is already listed. It did not say how much it was looking to raise. Shareholders will vote on the proposal at an extraordinary general meeting on Sept. 29.

The revival of the Hong Kong listing plans comes after Tianqi's Shenzhen shares surged almost sevenfold over the past 12 months as a rebound in demand from the EV sector drives up lithium prices. The heavily indebted company was struggling to repay billions of dollars in loans last year before securing a $1.4 billion lifeline investment in its Australian operations from IGO Ltd in December.

Since then, it has continued to mention a Hong Kong share sale as a possible additional fundraising channel in financial disclosures. Tianqi has a market capitalisation of 194.55 billion yuan ($30.14 billion), versus larger rival Ganfeng Lithium's 253.92 billion yuan, Refinitiv Eikon data show.

Ganfeng listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in October 2018, enduring a torrid debut that saw its shares plunge as much as 29%. Those shares have, however, surged almost 16-fold over the past two years, making Ganfeng the world's largest lithium company by market capitalisation.

($1 = 6.4554 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Tom Daly Editing by David Goodman and Louise Heavens)

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