Sept 4 (Reuters) - Australia's Liontown Resources shares shot 11.5% higher after the lithium developer's board on Monday backed a refreshed A$6.6 billion ($4.26 billion) bid from Albemarle Corp, the world's biggest lithium producer.
The new cash offer price of A$3 per share represents a premium of 14.5% to Liontown's last closing price of A$2.62 on Sept. 1 and is 20% higher than Albemarle's A$2.50 per share offer made in late March that the target had rejected as too low.
Liontown said its board intended to unanimously recommend shareholders vote in favor of the new takeover proposal, adding that an independent expert concluded that it was in the best interests of shareholders.
The news prompted Liontown shares to shoot up 11.5% to A$2.92, the highest since July 14.
Albemarle has been a granted a limited period of exclusive due diligence as well as to enter into a mutually acceptable scheme implementation deed, Liontown said in statement.
Emerging Australian lithium companies are witnessing a surge in buyouts as their lower valuations and cash needs attract some of the world's top producers of the battery material and other suitors who are racing to secure supplies.
Lithium is in hot demand for electric vehicle batteries, and projects in top supplier Australia have become more attractive than those in other major producer Chile, which in April detailed a plan to nationalize its industry.
Liontown controls two major lithium deposits in Western Australia, including its flagship Kathleen Valley project slated for first production in mid-2024, which is among the world's largest and highest-grade hard rock lithium deposits.
Liontown has inked supply agreements with Ford Motor, Tesla and the battery unit of South Korea's LG Chem .
Albemarle's latest offer for Liontown was its fourth, having also proposed A$2.20 per share on Oct. 20 last year and A$2.35 per share earlier in March before its rejected A$2.50 a share offer was made public.
Liontown said Greenhill & Co and UBS would act as financial advisers and Allens as its legal adviser in relation to the revised proposal. JPMorgan and Barrenjoey are advising Albemarle.
($1 = 1.5504 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney and Poonam Behura; Editing by Jamie Freed and Christopher Cushing)