Merger update: Liontown shares sink on Albemarle news

Albemarle needs more time and Rinehart's buying spree comes to an end.

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Liontown Resources Ltd (ASX: LTR) shares are under pressure on Thursday.

In morning trade, the lithium developer's shares are down 2.5% to $2.85.

What's going on with Liontown shares today?

Investors have been selling Liontown shares today after the company released an update on the Albemarle Corp (NYSE: ALB) takeover proposal.

As some readers may be aware, Albemarle tabled a non-binding $3 per share takeover approach in early September.

At the time, management saw enough value in the offer to grant Albemarle four weeks of exclusive due diligence. It also revealed that it would be willing to accept this proposal if it became binding.

Those four weeks have now elapsed, so what's happening?

Liontown takeover update

According to the release, Albemarle needs more time to complete its due diligence and therefore has not yet made a decision on whether to make a binding takeover proposal.

Management has agreed to extend the due diligence period until this time next week. It explains:

Liontown has been advised by Albemarle that, while Albemarle's due diligence is substantially complete, it requires a short extension of the four-week exclusive due diligence period. In response to this request, the Liontown Board has determined to extend the exclusive due diligence period by seven days, on the same terms as previously announced.

Rinehart's buying spree comes to an end

In other news, Gina Rinehart has now completed her buying spree and won't be propping up the share price any longer.

Her Hancock Prospecting business has now achieved its strategic objective (and the maximum allowed) of a 19.9% stake in the company. The media release states:

Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd (Hancock) has achieved its strategic stake objective of 19.9% of the ordinary shares in Liontown Resources Limited (Liontown), paying no more than $3.00 per share. Hancock now looks forward to having a prominent influence on Liontown's future, as its largest shareholder.

Hancock certainly will have a prominent influence on Liontown's future. With a stake of that size, it will be near impossible for Albemarle to get a deal over the line without Rinehart's approval. That's because 75% of shares need to be voted in favour of the deal.

But what's the end goal here? That's the million-dollar question. But we should know more next week when Albemarle completes its due diligence. At that point, if it makes a binding offer, Hancock will have to show its hand.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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