BY­TON TO RAISE $500 MIL­LION

Chi­nese-fi­nanced EV maker seeks funds for growth

The Gulf Today - Business - - FRONT PAGE -

HONG KONG: Chi­nese-fi­nanced elec­tric ve­hi­cle (EV) man­u­fac­turer By­ton is seek­ing to raise at least $500 mil­lion to fi­nance growth, valu­ing the nearly three-year-old com­pany at more than $4 bil­lion, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told Reuters.

The lat­est round of fundrais­ing comes as China’s gov­ern­ment pro­motes new en­ergy ve­hi­cles (NEVS), a cat­e­gory com­pris­ing bat­tery­pow­ered and plug-in bat­tery-petrol hy­brid cars, to help re­duce air pol­lu­tion and sup­port high tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment.

By­ton is keen to pri­mar­ily at­tract for­eign in­vestors in its lat­est fundrais­ing and the pro­ceeds will be mainly used to fi­nance the mass pro­duc­tion of its first premium elec­tric SUV ve­hi­cle - By­ton M-byte and re­search and de­vel­op­ment, one of the sources said on con­di­tion of anonymity as dis­cus­sions are still pri­vate.

Elec­tric ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer Tesla Inc broke ground on Mon­day for its Shang­hai plant where it plans to be­gin pro­duc­ing its Model 3 EV by year-end, a first step in lo­cal­is­ing pro­duc­tion in the world’s largest auto mar­ket.

The so-called Gi­gafac­tory is the coun­try’s first wholly for­eignowned car plant, a re­flec­tion of China’s broader shift to open up its car mar­ket, even amid a trade war with Wash­ing­ton, which has seen a rise in tar­iffs on cars im­ported from the United States.

By­ton’s chief ex­ec­u­tive and co­founder Carsten Bre­it­feld told Ger­many’s Au­to­mo­bil­woche in Oc­to­ber last year that the firm may launch an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing to fund ex­pan­sion and would seek an­other round of fundrais­ing from pri­vate in­vestors prior to the IPO.

Al­ready backed by China’s re­tail gi­ant Sun­ing and Hong Kong-based prop­erty de­vel­oper and health­care ser­vices provider Full­share Hold­ings, By­ton ear­lier last year lured new in­vestors in­clud­ing state-owned car­maker FAW Group and bat­tery sup­plier Con­tem­po­rary Am­perex Tech­nol­ogy in its $500 mil­lion Se­ries B round of fund­ing.

The com­pany is work­ing on its Se­ries C round of fundrais­ing, a By­ton spokes­woman said, but de­clined to pro­vide fur­ther de­tails. The com­pany which runs of­fices in China, the Unites States and Ger­many, is one of sev­eral largely Chi­nese-funded EV star­tups bet­ting on the ben­e­fits of lo­cal pro­duc­tion to com­pete with Tesla and other auto giants. Its lo­cal ri­vals in­clude Nas­daq-listed NIO and Xpeng Mo­tors, backed by Alibaba Group.

While China’s wider car mar­ket has cooled, its NEV mar­ket is grow­ing rapidly. NEV sales rose 37.6 per cent in Novem­ber com­pared with the same month last year, and surged 68 per cent to 1.03 mil­lion ve­hi­cles in Jan­uary-novem­ber, the coun­try’s top auto in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion said this month.

Reuters

A By­ton Con­cept T car is on dis­play dur­ing a mo­tor show in Bei­jing.

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