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Chinese VC firm GSR Capital to acquire Nissa’s electric battery business

YOKOHAMA – Chinese private investment fund GSR Capital has entered into a definitely sale and purchase agreement with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. for the sale of its electric battery operations and production facilities, the Japanese automaker said in a statement on August 8.

The agreement covers Nissan’s battery subsidiary, Automotive Energy Supply Corp. (AESC), as well as battery manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee, owned by Nissan North America Inc. (NNA), and in Sunderland, England, owned by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (U.K.) Ltd. (NMUK). Assets sold to GSR will also include part of Nissan’s Japanese battery development and production engineering operations located in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama.

“This is a win-win for AESC and Nissan,” said Hiroto Saikawa, president and CEO of Nissan. “It enables AESC to utilize GSR’s wide networks and proactive investment to expand its customer base and further increase its competitiveness. In turn, this will further enhance Nissan’s EV competitiveness. AESC will remain a very important partner for Nissan as we deepen our focus on designing and producing market-leading electric vehicles.”

“The acquisition of AESC represents an important step for us in the new energy vehicle industry chain,” said Sonny Wu, chairman of GSR Capital. “We plan to further invest in R&D, expand existing production capacity in the U.S., UK and Japan, and also establish new facilities in China and Europe, enabling us to better serve customers around the world. With these capabilities and plans added to the battery business’ already skilled workforce, high technical capabilities and proven product-quality track record, we will be in a very good position for growth.”

The workforce at all facilities covered by the deal will continue to be employed. The headquarters and development centers of the business will remain in Japan.

Nissan will implement the transaction by first taking full control of AESC – founded in 2007 to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries – by acquiring the combined 49 percent minority holding held by NEC Corp. and its wholly owned battery and electrode subsidiary, NEC Energy Devices, Ltd. (NECED). NEC on the same day announced its approval of the sale of AESC shares to Nissan and the fact that it is in negotiations with GSR for the sale of NECED.

The transaction is subject to normal consultation with staff representative bodies and, pending regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed by the end of December 2017. It is also contingent on GSR concluding purchase of all NECED shares from NEC. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

GSR Capital is a leading private investment fund with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Palo Alto. The firm focuses on investments in high growth sectors in electric vehicles, new energy, modern agriculture, healthcare and wireless technologies. The company was the first institutional investors in Didi Chuxing, ele.me, Inke, ofo, Qunar, Shanghai DZH and Xiaohongshu. It currently manages more than $1.5 billion in a combination of USD and RMB-denominated funds, according to its website.

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