Santiago, April 17, 2019 - Tianqi Lithium Corporation (“Tianqi Lithium”) announced today the three individuals who will be proposed as members of the Board of Directors of Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (“SQM”).
Tianqi Lithium acquired a 25.86% stake in SQM after completing a US$4.1 billion investment in December 2018 which gave Tianqi Lithium voting rights to appoint three board members’ to SQM’s board. Tianqi Lithium has previously stated its plan was to wait for SQM’s 2019 Annual Shareholders’ General Meeting – that will take place next Thursday, April 25th, 2019 – to complete its official arrival into SQM.
The three appointed individuals are economist Georges De Bourguignon, business executive Robert J. Zatta and lawyer Francisco Ugarte. All three are distinguished professionals with well-known experience in board and managerial positions of world-renowned companies.
Vivian Wu, President of Tianqi Lithium, shared her thoughts on the nominees: “We are pleased to have appointed these high caliber individuals and we are sure they will work diligently in bringing value to SQM while faithfully representing what’s best for all of SQM’s shareholders”, said Wu. “Georges, Robert and Francisco have enormous experience in different areas and their prestige is recognized in the international business arena. We are confident these board members will be a positive addition for SQM’s long-term plans”, she added.
Georges De Bourguignon Arndt
Georges De Bourguignon Arndt, economist from the Catholic University of Chile, is a distinguished Chilean businessman, founder, and currently Chairman, of Asset Chile S.A., one of Chile’s most renowned corporate finance advisory firms and of Asset AGF, a prominent Chilean asset management firm actively investing in alternative assets for Chilean and foreign institutional investors, such as the IFC.
In the last 10 years he has held board positions in several large publicly held Chilean companies with extensive international operations such as Embotelladora Andina, the largest South American Coca Cola bottler, and LATAM airlines, where since 2013, he has acted as an independent board representative of Chilean pension funds, successfully addressing LAN Chile’s merger challenges with Brazil’s TAM.
As Vice Chairman of the retailer La Polar, where he was also appointed by the Chilean pension funds in 2011, he led the financial restructuring and remaking of the company, to rescue it from Chile’s largest corporate governance and financial scandal at the time. He also led the acquisition of the Chilean salt producer Sal Lobos by the German potash and salt group K+S, becoming a Sal Lobos board member for over 12 years until 2018.
He has extensive experience in financial and corporate governance matters, having acted as Financial Expert and Chairman of the Audit Committee of NYSE-listed companies, and as Chairman of the Director's Committee in Chilean listed corporations.
In addition, Mr de Bourguignon is a former professor of Economics at the Catholic University of Chile, where he graduated with the maximum distinction of his class, and has held numerous Board positions in non-profit organizations. He was elected a member of the Dean’s Alumni Advisory Board at Harvard Business School, where he graduated with an MBA in 1988.
Mr de Bourguignon’s leadership positions and background in global financial, corporate and mining matters have been considered by Tianqi for his nomination as a board director in SQM. He will be an important contributor in further advancing the firms' corporate governance, social responsibility and business operations.
Robert J. Zatta
Robert J. Zatta, an American business executive, has over four decades of global business experience, with specific expertise in business strategy, finance, operations and mergers and acquisitions. Mr Zatta, has held senior management positions in the former General Foods Corporation and in Campbell Soup Company, where he held several significant financial management positions, including his final position as Vice President responsible for Corporate Development and Strategic Planning.
More recently, Mr Zatta worked with Rockwood Holdings, Inc up until 2015, predominantly as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer as well as a short period as Acting Chief Executive Officer. Since January 2016, Mr Zatta has served on the Board of Directors of Innophos Holdings, Inc, a publicly traded US specialty chemicals company, where he also serves as chair of the Audit Committee and is a member ofthe Compensation Committee. From March 2017 until its recent public company sale, Mr Zatta served as a director of Nexeo Solutions, Inc, a publicly traded global chemical and plastics distributor.
In addition, from December 2015 to September 2017, Mr Zatta served on the Board of Trustees of Merrimack College where he was also the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Management Committee. Since December 2017, Mr Zatta has served as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Silberman College of Business – Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr Zatta has a BS in Business Administration from Merrimack College and an MBA in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Mr Zatta’s executive experience with large, global specialty chemical companies, his extensive financial management and capital markets expertise, his qualifications as a financial committee expert and his leadership as chair of a standing board committee were all factors considered by Tianqi for his nomination as a director of SQM.
Francisco Ugarte, lawyer from the Catholic University of Chile and LL.M from the University of Chicago Law School, is a partner at Carey, Chile’s largest law firm. Mr Ugarte has been advising Tianqi Lithium in all aspects of the process to acquire a 25.86% stake of SQM.
Mr Ugarte has vast experience working with international and Chilean corporations and financial institutions on corporate transactions, financings, equity and debt offerings and other matters, having advised companies such as IFM Investors, CPPIB, Barrick Gold, J.P. Morgan Chase, Scotiabank, Mitsubishi Corporation, Danone, and Banco de Crédito e Inversiones. For his work, he is widely recognized in Chile as a leading lawyer in areas such as M&A, capital markets and corporate finance. Mr Ugarte holds and has held board positions in diverse companies, such as Bci Corredor de Bolsa, Votorantim Andina and Compañía Industrial El Volcán.
As agreed with the Fiscalía Nacional Economica (“FNE”) in the out-of-court settlement with Tianqi Lithium of 2018, the three selected board members will sign and deliver to the FNE affidavits where they manifest their commitment to comply with all aspects of the agreement. They will also strictly follow the stipulations and procedures of SQM’s internal Compliance Protocol regarding the management of sensitive commercial information.