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CATL mulls expansion amid IPO talk

By Cheng Yu | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-23 09:00

A view of the booth of CATL during an expo in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. CHINA DAILY

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd, the world's largest maker of electric vehicle batteries, said it will accelerate its overseas expansion by building its fourth plant in Europe. It is also reportedly seeking a potential listing in Hong Kong.

IFR, or International Financing Review, a provider of global capital markets intelligence, reported on Wednesday that CATL is considering listing in Hong Kong, which could come as early as next year.

An independent stock-market source who sought anonymity, however, said CATL appears to be mulling an IPO in Hong Kong, but declined to elaborate.

Given CATL's big valuation in the current market scenario, any IPO now or in the near future would be substantial in size, which could make regulatory approval slow to come; so, the reported IPO may not be in 2024, the source said.

Zhang Xiang, an auto sector researcher at the North China University of Technology, said:"The reported listing plan appears to be aimed at supporting CATL's growing overseas business and strengthening its leading position in the global market."

CATL already boasts a global footprint which is set to expand further with the company announcing on Tuesday it will build an EV battery plant with Amsterdam-based Stellantis NV for low-cost EVs in Europe, Zhang said.

CATL did not disclose the location of the proposed fourth plant in Europe. Earlier this year and last year, it had announced it will build factories in Germany and Hungary and disclosed plans in September to build its second factory in Hungary.

On Tuesday, CATL and Stellantis announced a preliminary agreement for the supply of LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, battery cells and modules for the automaker's EV production in Europe.

Compared with the current nickel manganese cobalt batteries, LFP batteries are cheaper to produce and more affordable.

They said they were considering setting up a joint venture in the region but discussions were still on and a few more months were needed to finalize the deal.

CATL is critical to Stellantis' long-term strategy for LFP battery chemistry, to protect freedom of mobility of the European middle-income people, said Carlos Tavares, its CEO, adding the move will bring "innovative and accessible" battery technology to its customers.

According to a research report from Counterpoint, CATL leads the EV battery market, with BYD and LG Energy Solutions trailing by some distance. These top three battery makers collectively accounted for nearly two-thirds of the market in the first half of this year.

"With Stellantis' expertise in car manufacturing and CATL's advanced battery technology, we believe the partnership will be a decisive step on both parties' journey toward carbon neutrality goals," said Robin Zeng Yuqun, founder and chairman of CATL.

Wang Jing, a research supervisor for high-end manufacturing at Shanghai Chaos Investment Group Co Ltd, said in an earlier interview that with an anticipated boom in NEV sales globally in the coming years, Chinese mainstream battery manufacturers will take steps in going global and strive to get closer to leading foreign automakers.

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