BHP in talks with Wyloo over Noront takeover, extends tender expiry

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A tonne of nickel powder made by BHP Group sits in a warehouse at its Nickel West division, south of Perth, Australia August 2, 2019. Picture taken August 2, 2019. REUTERS/Melanie Burton

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Nov 3 (Reuters) - BHP Group Ltd (BHP.AX) has started talks with Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest's Wyloo Metals regarding the takeover of Noront Resources Ltd (NOT.V) as both the companies try to acquire the Canadian nickel producer.

In October, BHP increased its all-cash offer for Noront to C$0.75 ($0.60) per share, surpassing Wyloo's C$0.70 proposal.

"BHP and Wyloo Metals have engaged in initial conversations and are considering a mutually beneficial arrangement regarding the acquisition of Noront by BHP," BHP said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

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At stake in the scramble for Noront is the Eagle's Nest nickel asset in Canada's so-called Ring of Fire, a high-grade deposit sought to meet the expected demand for the metal from electric vehicle battery makers, as well as copper and palladium.

BHP also extended the tender expiry for its takeover from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16, the world's biggest mining company said in the statement.

Wyloo confirmed that it had entered the discussions.

"Wyloo Metals is considering the potential of a mutually beneficial arrangement with BHP insofar as this arrangement can deliver greater deal certainty to Noront shareholders," Wyloo said in a statement on Wednesday.

Wyloo said Noront shareholders would be updated on the discussions before the tender deadline.

($1 = 1.2413 Canadian dollars)

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Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru. Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Christian Schmollinger

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