In a smashing season finale double episode, The Global Lithium Podcast team joins Livent CEO Paul Graves in his home to chat about life, lithium, and Livent. Paul gives us his background from a small town in England, and Joe and Paul share their experiences as expats in multiple countries and cultures. They focus on the danger of becoming a “citizen of nowhere” that can lead companies to be distanced from customers, employees, and governments.
Joe gets to the heart of Livent’s relationship with FMC, Paul provides insight into the pre and post FMC Lithium business, including clarifying that to customers, the lithium business is and will continue to be a specialty chemicals business—despite a deep desire from investors for the simplicity of a commodity business.
Paul shares his thoughts on the role of a modern CEO and his responsibility to balance short term earnings pressure with looking ahead at investing to be able to deliver what customer’s need. The EV revolution is driven by innovation and to a lesser extent public policy. Consumers increasingly value products that can deliver green transportation, safely and economically. For a lithium producer, that means viewing their product as a performance chemical.
Joe and Paul chat about supply, demand and customer behavior noting that in times of supply shortages, buyers’ qualification times and processes get quite a bit more flexible. The discussion moves to product mix and the infamous hydroxide vs. carbonate debate, and the importance of keeping a product offering that serves Livent’s client base. Emily and Joe conclude part one by asking Paul about how he sees the market coming together, including his views on China, subsidies, and infrastructure.