Green bidding war: BHP outbids ‘Twiggy’ Forrest in Canadian nickel miner battle

Mining giant BHP has raised its offer to buy Canadian nickel miner Noront Resources, trumping the latest bid from Australian billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

Just a day after the board of Toronto-listed Noront recommended shareholders accept the C70¢-a-share offer from Dr Forrest’s Wyloo Metals, its chief executive Alan Coutts said it now supported BHP’s offer after it raised its bid from C55¢ to C75¢-a-share.

BHp, the world’s biggest mining company, is seeking to expand its exposure to electric-batter raw materials such as nickel.Credit:Trevor Collens

“This transaction provides a premium to Wyloo’s offer, and delivers certainty of value to Noront shareholders via an all-cash offer,” Noront chief executive Alan Coutts said.

“Noront’s board of directors determined that BHP’s improved offer is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.”

BHP says its offer is valid until November 9, Canadian time.

The tussle for Noront is the latest sign of mining heavyweights’ accelerating efforts to secure supplies of electric battery ingredients such as nickel and lithium ahead of an expected surge in demand from the electric vehicle revolution.

Noront has a significant claim in one of Canada’s largest potential mineral reserves, the largely undeveloped “Ring of Fire” region in northern Ontario.

BHP’s main commodities are iron ore and copper, but it is seeking to expand its exposure to what it refers to as “future-facing” commodities that will be increasingly required to power the clean-energy age, electrify transport and feed a fast-growing global population.

Wyloo Metals, wholly owned by Dr Forrest’s investment vehicle Tattarang, owns 37.5 per cent of Noront. The proposed deal with BHP would require 50 per cent of the Noront register to support the deal, meaning Wyloo’s support would not be required for BHP’s offer to succeed.

“Now is the time for shareholders to decide if they want to tender to our improved offer and crystallise the compelling and full value it represents,” BHP chief development officer Johan van Jaarsveld said.

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