Lithium Power International — Gaining full control of Maricunga

Lithium Power International (ASX: LPI)

Currency in AUD

Last close As at 02/02/2023

AUD0.44

−0.01 (−1.14%)

Market capitalisation

AUD277m

Research: Metals & Mining

Lithium Power International — Gaining full control of Maricunga

Lithium Power International (LPI) has announced plans to acquire 100% control of its flagship Maricunga lithium project by way of a three-party all-share merger with the project’s minority owners. The transaction values LPI’s remaining c 48% share in the project at A$90m, which is a significant discount to our project valuation, and allows the company to streamline the project’s ownership structure ahead of the anticipated final investment decision. We have updated our financial model and valuation of LPI to reflect the transaction and the lower share price and associated higher funding dilution. Despite the current weakness in lithium shares against the backdrop of slowing economic growth, lithium prices remain high and the sector’s longer-term fundamentals are intact.

Written by

Andrey Litvin

Supervisory analyst

Metals & Mining

Lithium Power International

Gaining full control of Maricunga

Project update

Metals & mining

30 June 2022

Price

A$0.40

Market cap

A$140m

US$:A$1.44

Net cash (A$m) at end March 2022

10.6

Shares in issue, pre-merger

349.1m

Free float

100%

Code

LPI

Primary exchange

ASX

Secondary exchange

N/A

Share price performance

%

1m

3m

12m

Abs

(31.0)

(40.9)

110.8

Rel (local)

(25.6)

(33.4)

131.9

52-week high/low

A$0.98

A$0.19

Business description

Lithium Power International’s main asset is its 51.6% interest in the Maricunga lithium brine project in Chile. Subject to securing a funding package, the first stage of the project is expected to produce 15.2ktpa of high-grade lithium carbonate, starting from 2026. It also owns two early-stage exploration lithium projects in Western Australia, which it plans to demerge by end CY22.

Next events

Q422 report

July 2022

Australian lithium assets spin-off

H2 CY22

Analyst

Andrey Litvin

+44 (0)20 3077 5700

Lithium Power International is a research client of Edison Investment Research Limited

Lithium Power International (LPI) has announced plans to acquire 100% control of its flagship Maricunga lithium project by way of a three-party all-share merger with the project’s minority owners. The transaction values LPI’s remaining c 48% share in the project at A$90m, which is a significant discount to our project valuation, and allows the company to streamline the project’s ownership structure ahead of the anticipated final investment decision. We have updated our financial model and valuation of LPI to reflect the transaction and the lower share price and associated higher funding dilution. Despite the current weakness in lithium shares against the backdrop of slowing economic growth, lithium prices remain high and the sector’s longer-term fundamentals are intact.

Year end

Revenue (A$m)

PBT*
(A$m)

EPS*
(c)

DPS
(c)

P/E
(x)

Yield
(%)

06/20

0.0

(12.7)

(4.9)

0.0

N/A

N/A

06/21

0.0

(6.0)

(2.2)

0.0

N/A

N/A

06/22e

0.0

(9.6)

(1.9)

0.0

N/A

N/A

06/23e

0.0

(3.3)

(0.5)

0.0

N/A

N/A

Note: *EPS is normalised, excluding amortisation of acquired intangibles, exceptional items and share-based payments.

Acquiring 100% of the Maricunga project

LPI has announced its intention to merge with MSB SpA and Bearing Lithium, its two minority partners in its flagship Maricunga lithium brine project in Chile. The transaction is structured as a three-party all-share merger and will take place in two independent stages. In the first transaction, MSB SpA will contribute its 31.31% interest to a Delaware company, which will then be acquired by LPI for 161.6m LPI shares. The Bearing Lithium transaction will see LPI issuing 0.7 shares for each Bearing Lithium common share, which in total represents c 76.3m LPI shares (plus up to 18.2m shares for options and warrants). Excluding Bearing Lithium’s dilutive instruments, LPI will issue c 238m new shares (c 41% of the enlarged share capital) for the remaining 48.5% project interest. At the current share price, the deal values LPI’s remaining interest at A$90m (A$186m on a 100% basis), or c A$108m based on the one-month volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of A$0.464. According to the company, the current LPI shareholders will increase their proportionate interest in the project from 51.6% to 57.9%. Both transactions should be approved by LPI shareholders, with completion of the deal targeted for September 2022.

Valuation: Consolidation is a positive step

Our valuation of the Maricunga project remains largely unchanged at A$1.14bn at a 10% discount rate and the long-term carbonate price of US$17,000/t. We have updated our LPI valuation to reflect the change in the ownership structure as well as the reduction in the share price assumed for the dilutive effects of the project’s equity funding. On a diluted basis, our valuation of LPI reduces from A$1.1/share to A$1.0/share. If, as before, we assume that the project is funded at A$0.75/share, our diluted valuation would increase to A$1.3/share (see page 2 for valuation sensitivities). We believe that the announced transaction is positive for LPI as it is value accretive and also allows the company to streamline the project ownership structure ahead of the anticipated investment decision.

Valuation update

Our cash flow based valuation of the Maricunga project remains broadly unchanged as we maintain all our underlying operational and financial assumptions based on the 2022 definitive feasibility study for the 15.2ktpa carbonate operation (see our initiation note for more details), but update slightly the USD/AUD FX rate (1.44 vs 1.40 previously). At the 10% discount rate and the long-term carbonate price of US$17,000/t we value the project at A$1.14bn. At the same time, we have revisited our LPI valuation to reflect the proposed change in ownership structure and recent weakness in the share price in line with the overall lithium sector and broader market. We have previously assumed that at the LPI level Maricunga is accounted for on an equity basis, which was consistent with the company’s current accounting and its 51.6% interest in the project. Consequently, we assumed that the required debt funding (US$376m) was raised at the project level and equity financing (US$250m) was contributed by the project owners on a pro rata basis. Following the repayment of debt at the project level, the remaining cash was expected to be distributed among the three owners, with LPI receiving its effective 51.6% interest.

Given the announced change in ownership, we now assume that LPI fully consolidates and funds the project and therefore retains all the cash flows from the project. Further, given the recent significant volatility in the LPI share price and the lithium sector in general, we now assume that the project’s equity funding is raised at the one-month VWAP of A$0.464/share (which is also used by the company for the transaction). Based on the above assumptions, we now calculate the diluted value of LPI of A$1.0/share (excluding Bearing Lithium’s dilutive instruments). This includes the value of the residual project resources at A$0.1/share and compares to our previous diluted valuation of A$1.1/share. The diluted valuation of the company is highly sensitive to the share price assumptions. We show this sensitivity analysis in Exhibit 1 below. We note that at the previous share price assumption of A$0.75/share, our updated diluted valuation of LPI would be A$1.3/share.

Exhibit 1: LPI diluted valuation sensitivity to changes in the share price, A$/share

Project equity to be raised (A$m)

361

361

361

361

361

361

361

361

LPI share price (A$)

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

0.9

1.0

Shares to be issued (m)

1,203

902

722

601

515

451

401

361

Total number of LPI shares (m)

1,790

1,489

1,309

1,188

1,102

1,038

988

948

Total project value (A$m)

1,168

1,168

1,168

1,168

1,168

1,168

1,168

1,168

Diluted value of the project

0.7

0.8

0.9

1.0

1.1

1.1

1.2

1.2

Value of additional resources

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.3

Total diluted valuation of LPI

0.7

0.9

1.0

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

Source: Edison Investment Research

The value of the project and the company is also highly sensitive to changes in the discount rate and carbonite price assumptions. We show these sensitivities in the table below.

Exhibit 2: Project valuation sensitivity to changes in lithium price and discount rate (A$/share)

 

Long-term carbonate price, US$/tonne

Discount rate

15,000

17,000

19,000

21,000

23,000

25,000

8.0%

0.92

1.09

1.25

1.42

1.59

1.76

10.0%

0.72

0.85

0.99

1.13

1.26

1.40

11.0%

0.64

0.76

0.89

1.01

1.13

1.26

13.0%

0.51

0.61

0.72

0.82

0.92

1.02

15.0%

0.41

0.50

0.59

0.67

0.75

0.84

Source: Edison Investment Research

Exhibit 3: Financial summary

A$'000s

2020

2021

2022e

2023e

Year end June

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

INCOME STATEMENT

Revenue

 

 

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Operating costs

(2,942.3)

(2,448.0)

(3,552.0)

(3,250.0)

EBIT from continuing operations

 

(2,942.3)

(2,448.0)

(3,552.0)

(3,250.0)

Share of JV losses/profits

(3,786.9)

(1,967.3)

(3,000.0)

0.0

Net financing costs

183.6

8.2

0.0

0.0

Forex

(6,203.2)

(1,573.2)

(3,000.0)

0.0

Profit Before Tax (norm)

 

 

(12,748.8)

(5,980.3)

(9,552.0)

(3,250.0)

Tax

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Profit After Tax

 

 

(12,748.8)

(5,980.3)

(9,552.0)

(3,250.0)

Minority interests

(95.7)

(57.3)

183.0

0.0

Discontinued operations

(319.2)

(191.1)

1,530.3

0.0

Net income

 

 

(12,972.2)

(6,114.1)

(8,204.7)

(3,250.0)

Average Number of Shares Outstanding (m)

263

283

444

628

EPS - normalised (c)

 

 

(4.94)

(2.16)

(1.85)

(0.52)

Dividend, c

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

Revenue growth (%)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Gross Margin (%)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

EBITDA Margin (%)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Normalised Operating Margin

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

BALANCE SHEET

Fixed Assets

 

 

29,300.8

32,696.3

146,646.9

241,391.1

Equity investments

25,074.9

28,594.9

0.0

0.0

PP&E

26.4

24.2

143,004.7

237,499.0

Exploration assets

4,199.4

4,077.2

3,642.1

3,892.1

Current Assets

 

 

7,391.8

6,802.0

9,545.9

6,045.9

Cash

7,141.6

6,280.7

9,341.2

5,841.2

Receivables

74.7

16.3

16.3

16.3

Other

175.5

188.4

188.4

188.4

Assets held for sale

0.0

316.7

0.0

0.0

Current Liabilities

 

 

(336.0)

(359.1)

(404.2)

(404.2)

Creditors

(293.8)

(322.2)

(322.2)

(322.2)

Short term borrowings and leases

(42.2)

(36.9)

(82.1)

(82.1)

Long Term Liabilities

 

 

0.0

0.0

0.0

(56,696.5)

Debt

0

0

0

(56,696.5)

Net Assets

 

 

36,356.5

39,139.3

155,788.5

190,336.2

Minority interests

(187.1)

(183.0)

0.0

0.0

Shareholders' equity

 

 

36,543.6

39,322.3

155,788.5

190,336.2

CASH FLOW

Operating Cash Flow

(13,067.9)

(6,171.4)

(8,021.7)

(3,250.0)

JV contribution

3,786.9

1,967.3

3,000.0

0.0

Forex

6,503.3

1,479.6

3,000.0

0.0

Other

853.5

382.2

(148.1)

0.0

Net operating cash flow

 

 

(1,924.3)

(2,342.4)

(2,169.7)

(3,250.0)

Payments for JV capital

(5,173.5)

(6,524.7)

(7,000.0)

(94,494.2)

Exploration

(1,202.2)

(205.8)

(800.0)

(250.0)

Equity financing

100.0

7,789.6

11,765.0

37,797.7

Other

0.0

452.6

1,235.1

0.0

Net Cash Flow

(8,199.9)

(830.7)

3,030.3

(60,196.5)

Opening net debt/(cash)

 

 

(15,341.5)

(7,141.6)

(6,280.7)

(9,341.2)

FX and other

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Closing net debt/(cash)

 

 

(7,141.6)

(6,280.7)

(9,341.2)

50,855.3

Source: Lithium Power International, Edison Investment Research


General disclaimer and copyright

This report has been commissioned by Lithium Power International and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Lithium Power International. Edison Investment Research standard fees are £60,000 pa for the production and broad dissemination of a detailed note (Outlook) following by regular (typically quarterly) update notes. Fees are paid upfront in cash without recourse. Edison may seek additional fees for the provision of roadshows and related IR services for the client but does not get remunerated for any investment banking services. We never take payment in stock, options or warrants for any of our services.

Accuracy of content: All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report and have not sought for this information to be independently verified. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the research department of Edison at the time of publication. Forward-looking information or statements in this report contain information that is based on assumptions, forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable, and therefore involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of their subject matter to be materially different from current expectations.

Exclusion of Liability: To the fullest extent allowed by law, Edison shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential losses, loss of profits, damages, costs or expenses incurred or suffered by you arising out or in connection with the access to, use of or reliance on any information contained on this note.

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Copyright: Copyright 2022 Edison Investment Research Limited (Edison).

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New Zealand

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United Kingdom

This document is prepared and provided by Edison for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer or solicitation for investment in any securities mentioned or in the topic of this document. A marketing communication under FCA Rules, this document has not been prepared in accordance with the legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

This Communication is being distributed in the United Kingdom and is directed only at (i) persons having professional experience in matters relating to investments, i.e. investment professionals within the meaning of Article 19(5) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005, as amended (the ‘FPO’) (ii) high net-worth companies, unincorporated associations or other bodies within the meaning of Article 49 of the FPO and (iii) persons to whom it is otherwise lawful to distribute it. The investment or investment activity to which this document relates is available only to such persons. It is not intended that this document be distributed or passed on, directly or indirectly, to any other class of persons and in any event and under no circumstances should persons of any other description rely on or act upon the contents of this document.

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Frankfurt +49 (0)69 78 8076 960

Schumannstrasse 34b

60325 Frankfurt

Germany

London +44 (0)20 3077 5700

280 High Holborn

London, WC1V 7EE

United Kingdom

New York +1 646 653 7026

1185 Avenue of the Americas

3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036

United States of America

Sydney +61 (0)2 8249 8342

Level 4, Office 1205

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Frankfurt +49 (0)69 78 8076 960

Schumannstrasse 34b

60325 Frankfurt

Germany

London +44 (0)20 3077 5700

280 High Holborn

London, WC1V 7EE

United Kingdom

New York +1 646 653 7026

1185 Avenue of the Americas

3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036

United States of America

Sydney +61 (0)2 8249 8342

Level 4, Office 1205

95 Pitt Street, Sydney

NSW 2000, Australia

General disclaimer and copyright

This report has been commissioned by Lithium Power International and prepared and issued by Edison, in consideration of a fee payable by Lithium Power International. Edison Investment Research standard fees are £60,000 pa for the production and broad dissemination of a detailed note (Outlook) following by regular (typically quarterly) update notes. Fees are paid upfront in cash without recourse. Edison may seek additional fees for the provision of roadshows and related IR services for the client but does not get remunerated for any investment banking services. We never take payment in stock, options or warrants for any of our services.

Accuracy of content: All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report and have not sought for this information to be independently verified. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the research department of Edison at the time of publication. Forward-looking information or statements in this report contain information that is based on assumptions, forecasts of future results, estimates of amounts not yet determinable, and therefore involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of their subject matter to be materially different from current expectations.

Exclusion of Liability: To the fullest extent allowed by law, Edison shall not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential losses, loss of profits, damages, costs or expenses incurred or suffered by you arising out or in connection with the access to, use of or reliance on any information contained on this note.

No personalised advice: The information that we provide should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as, personalised advice. Also, the information provided by us should not be construed by any subscriber or prospective subscriber as Edison’s solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect, any transaction in a security. The securities described in the report may not be eligible for sale in all jurisdictions or to certain categories of investors.

Investment in securities mentioned: Edison has a restrictive policy relating to personal dealing and conflicts of interest. Edison Group does not conduct any investment business and, accordingly, does not itself hold any positions in the securities mentioned in this report. However, the respective directors, officers, employees and contractors of Edison may have a position in any or related securities mentioned in this report, subject to Edison's policies on personal dealing and conflicts of interest.

Copyright: Copyright 2022 Edison Investment Research Limited (Edison).

Australia

Edison Investment Research Pty Ltd (Edison AU) is the Australian subsidiary of Edison. Edison AU is a Corporate Authorised Representative (1252501) of Crown Wealth Group Pty Ltd who holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (Number: 494274). This research is issued in Australia by Edison AU and any access to it, is intended only for ‘wholesale clients’ within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001 of Australia. Any advice given by Edison AU is general advice only and does not take into account your personal circumstances, needs or objectives. You should, before acting on this advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If our advice relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular financial product you should read any relevant Product Disclosure Statement or like instrument.

New Zealand

The research in this document is intended for New Zealand resident professional financial advisers or brokers (for use in their roles as financial advisers or brokers) and habitual investors who are ‘wholesale clients’ for the purpose of the Financial Advisers Act 2008 (FAA) (as described in sections 5(c) (1)(a), (b) and (c) of the FAA). This is not a solicitation or inducement to buy, sell, subscribe, or underwrite any securities mentioned or in the topic of this document. For the purpose of the FAA, the content of this report is of a general nature, is intended as a source of general information only and is not intended to constitute a recommendation or opinion in relation to acquiring or disposing (including refraining from acquiring or disposing) of securities. The distribution of this document is not a ‘personalised service’ and, to the extent that it contains any financial advice, is intended only as a ‘class service’ provided by Edison within the meaning of the FAA (i.e. without taking into account the particular financial situation or goals of any person). As such, it should not be relied upon in making an investment decision.

United Kingdom

This document is prepared and provided by Edison for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer or solicitation for investment in any securities mentioned or in the topic of this document. A marketing communication under FCA Rules, this document has not been prepared in accordance with the legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

This Communication is being distributed in the United Kingdom and is directed only at (i) persons having professional experience in matters relating to investments, i.e. investment professionals within the meaning of Article 19(5) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005, as amended (the ‘FPO’) (ii) high net-worth companies, unincorporated associations or other bodies within the meaning of Article 49 of the FPO and (iii) persons to whom it is otherwise lawful to distribute it. The investment or investment activity to which this document relates is available only to such persons. It is not intended that this document be distributed or passed on, directly or indirectly, to any other class of persons and in any event and under no circumstances should persons of any other description rely on or act upon the contents of this document.

This Communication is being supplied to you solely for your information and may not be reproduced by, further distributed to or published in whole or in part by, any other person.

United States

Edison relies upon the ‘publishers' exclusion’ from the definition of investment adviser under Section 202(a)(11) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and corresponding state securities laws. This report is a bona fide publication of general and regular circulation offering impersonal investment-related advice, not tailored to a specific investment portfolio or the needs of current and/or prospective subscribers. As such, Edison does not offer or provide personal advice and the research provided is for informational purposes only. No mention of a particular security in this report constitutes a recommendation to buy, sell or hold that or any security, or that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.

Frankfurt +49 (0)69 78 8076 960

Schumannstrasse 34b

60325 Frankfurt

Germany

London +44 (0)20 3077 5700

280 High Holborn

London, WC1V 7EE

United Kingdom

New York +1 646 653 7026

1185 Avenue of the Americas

3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036

United States of America

Sydney +61 (0)2 8249 8342

Level 4, Office 1205

95 Pitt Street, Sydney

NSW 2000, Australia

Frankfurt +49 (0)69 78 8076 960

Schumannstrasse 34b

60325 Frankfurt

Germany

London +44 (0)20 3077 5700

280 High Holborn

London, WC1V 7EE

United Kingdom

New York +1 646 653 7026

1185 Avenue of the Americas

3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036

United States of America

Sydney +61 (0)2 8249 8342

Level 4, Office 1205

95 Pitt Street, Sydney

NSW 2000, Australia

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