(Yicai Global) Aug. 9 -- Hong Kong-based venture capital firm, GSR Capital, has signed a final agreement with Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co. [TYO:7201] to acquire its battery business and related assets, the pair said yesterday.
The deal marks the second time a Chinese firm has bought a Japanese auto parts maker, after Ningbo-based electronics firm Key Safety Systems Inc.'s CNY10-billion (USD1.49 billion) takeover of Takata Corp.
The agreement covers all of Nissan's traction battery businesses and assets, including Automotive Energy Supply Corp.; Nissan's battery production facilities in the US and UK and battery development and engineering operations in Japan.
Regulators still need to approve the deal and GSR needs to purchase a 100-percent stake in NEC Energy Devices Ltd., an electrode production business, from NEC Corp.
Financial details of the deal have not yet been disclosed, though media reports estimate GSR will pay around USD1 billion in collaboration with a group of limited partners, including Hong Kong private equity funds and industry investors.
AESC is a global leader in the electric-vehicle battery industry. Its lithium batteries were first released in 2010 and have been installed on around 270,000 Nissan Leaf cars, the world's best-selling electric vehicle model. The company ranked as the fourth largest battery supplier in the world after shipping 1,622 megawatt-hours last year, second only to Panasonic [TYO:6752], BYD Co. [SHE:002594] and LG Chem Ltd. [KRX:051910], data published by D1ev.com's research institute shows. Nissan Motor currently holds a 51 percent stake in AESC, with NEC owning the remaining 49 percent.
"The acquisition marks an important step in our business expansion along the industry chain," said Wu Shenjun, chairman of GSR Capital. "We plan to further increase research and development inputs, ramp up production capacity in the US, UK and Japan and build new plants in China and Europe."
GSR's acquisition will help Nissan Motor step up development in China's new-energy vehicle market, Sun Muzi, auto industry director at TurboInsight Beijing Information and Consulting LLC, told Yicai Global. As the first foreign multinational to sell electric vehicles in China, Nissan has been localizing production at an accelerated rate, and selling AESC to a Chinese firm will ensure reliable supplies of core components.