(Bloomberg) -- Tata Chemicals Ltd. is in discussions with London-based Johnson Matthey Plc to buy the company’s battery materials business, according to Mint, citing two people with direct knowledge of the plan.

A deal for the battery materials unit could fetch $500 million to $700 million, the sources told Mint, adding that talks began after the company decided to exit the business. Tata is one of the frontrunners to acquire the assets, the sources said.

Earlier this month, Johnson Matthey said it would abandon its push into battery materials, a major reorientation after betting on batteries to eventually replace its catalytic converter business. 

The leading maker of pollution-reducing catalytic converters had invested millions of dollars on developing the eLNO cathode -- a crucial component of an electric car’s battery that would cut the consumption of cobalt -- but stopped the project earlier in November, citing competition.

A Tata spokesperson declined to comment to Mint. A spokesperson for Johnson Matthey said the company announced earlier this month that it’s looking for a buyer for its materials business and it’s too early to comment on any discussions.

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