Australia's Wyloo promises metals hub in bid for Canada's Noront

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By Jeff Lewis

TORONTO (Reuters) - Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest's Wyloo Metals on Monday said it would develop a "future metals hub" and study battery material production in Canada as it seeks to clinch a takeover of nickel-copper miner Noront Resources.

Wyloo's planned unsolicited bid for the remaining shares of the Canadian miner values Noront at C$133 million ($110 million), or C$0.315 per share. It is Noront's top shareholder, with a 23% stake as of December.

Noront last week said it would look to adopt a poison-pill plan to thwart any takeover.

Wyloo head Luca Giacovazzi declined to comment on the potential for a higher bid, noting the offer is a 91% premium to Noront's share price in December, before Wyloo's initial investment.

"It's a very material premium to shareholders who have had to go through the pains of the Noront story for many years," he told Reuters.

Noront Chief Executive Alan Coutts said the company could not respond to any statements about its assets because a formal offer from Wyloo had not been received, only an expression of interest.

Wyloo said it would commit C$25 million to study the potential to produce chemical products in Ontario province, Canada, for the emerging market for electric vehicle batteries, including the construction of a ferrochrome plant.

It would also target C$100 million in contract awards to First Nation businesses and develop Noront's flagship Eagle's Nest deposit as a net-zero emissions mine, the company said.

Wyloo is a subsidiary of Forrest's Tattarang, one of Australia's largest private investment groups.

Canada in March tightened foreign investment rules in critical minerals but stopped short of barring the acquisitions of such assets.

(Reporting by Jeff Lewis; editing by Barbara Lewis and Steve Orlofsky)