October 30, 2018 / 11:06 PM / 13 days ago

Chile's antitrust court rejects appeals against Tianqi deal

SANTIAGO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Chile's antitrust court on Tuesday rejected appeals filed against its authorization of Tianqi Lithium Corp's $4.1 billion purchase of a stake in lithium producer SQM, Tianqi said on Tuesday.

The decision marks the latest legal victory for Tianqi, a Chinese miner seeking to acquire 24 percent of Chile's SQM, the world's No.2 lithium miner, as Beijing promotes electric vehicles that rely on the metal.

Last week Chile's Constitutional Court rejected a lawsuit filed by SQM's majority shareholder Julio Ponce to block Tianqi's plans to buy the stake from Nutrien Ltd.

But legal risks had lingered over the deal. SQM, Ponce's Pampa Group and consumer watchdog group Conadecus previously filed appeals against the antitrust court's decision to authorize the transaction.

Ponce had argued the acquisition could expose SQM's secrets to top competitor Tianqi. Conadecus said the deal could raise prices of products powered in part by lithium, like cellphones and electric vehicles.

"With this final decision, Tianqi expects to close the transaction in the timeframes originally scheduled," Tianqi said in a statement.

Tianqi had planned to complete the acquisition by the end of the year.

It added it would join SQM "with a constructive spirit, seeking to maximize value and benefits for all shareholders in the company."

Ponce and Conadecus could not immediately be reached for comment outside regular business hours.

Reporting By Aislinn Lang, Writing By Mitra Taj; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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