October 24, 2018 / 5:01 PM / 20 days ago

Chile mining minister says court won't delay sale of SQM stake

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Chile’s mining minister said on Wednesday that he believes the country’s Constitutional Court would act swiftly to resolve a case before it seeking to block Chinese firm Tianqi Lithium Corp from purchasing a nearly one-quarter stake in the world’s No. 2 lithium miner SQM.

The top shareholder in SQM <SQMa.SN, SQM_pb.SN> argued before the court earlier this week that Chile’s antitrust court failed to follow due process in approving a settlement between Tianqi and Chilean regulators.

Baldo Prokurica told journalists that he was confident of the decisions taken by the country’s antitrust regulators and was certain the Constitutional Court would agree.

“The Constitutional Court is a mature entity, with a long history and I am certain that it will not lend itself to delaying this process,” he said.

Lawyers for Tianqi have accused SQM’s Pampa Group, which is the majority shareholder in the Chilean miner, of seeking to delay Tianqi’s purchase of the quarter stake in order to force the shares to be sold piecemeal, thus preserving Pampa’s dominance of SQM’s board.

The Constitutional Court will hold an “extraordinary session” to decide on how to proceed in the case at 3 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Thursday.

It could decide to hear the case in full and suspend the sale, potentially putting it at risk, hear the case in full but allow the sale to go ahead, or decline to hear the case further, the court has said. (Reporting by Antonio de la Jara, writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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