Chinese electric vehicle startup Nio has secured a $1 billion investment from several state-owned companies in Hefei in return for agreeing to establish headquarters in the city's economic development hotspot and giving up a stake in one of its business units.
The injection of capital comes from several investors, including Hefei City Construction and Investment Holding Group, CMG-SDIC Capital and Anhui Provincial Emerging Industry Investment Co.
Nio's factory is already in Hefei, which it operates with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group. However, the company's headquarters and other operations are in Shanghai about 300 miles from the Anhui provincial city. Under this agreement, Nio will locate all of its Chinese operations, including R&D, sales, service and supply chain, in the Hefei Economic and Technological Development Area.
The investment is another important milestone of Nio for its long-term growth, Nio said in a statement Wednesday.
"After receiving the investments from the strategic investors, Nio will have more sufficient funds to support its business development, to enhance its leadership in the products and technologies of smart electric vehicles and to offer services exceeding users' expectation," the company said, adding that the launch of Nio China headquarters in Hefei enables Nio to improve its operational efficiency and to sustain its growth and competitiveness in the long run.
Despite the new capital, Nio faces a series of challenges, including a downturn in the Chinese automotive market. Electric vehicle sales in China declined 4%, to 1.21 million vehicles in 2019, from the previous year. The company's ES8 and ES6 vehicles haven't generated the same demand as Tesla's Model 3. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is dampening demand further as customers stayed home.
Structuring the deal requires some asset shuffling. The investment is targeted toward Nio China, a recently established business unit under Nio Inc.
Investors will put 7 billion yuan, or $1 billion, into Nio's holding company. Nio will put its core China businesses and assets — which include vehicle research and development, supply chain and its power division — into Nio China, a subsidiary of the holding company. Nio's parent company will also invest into Nio China.
At the end, investors will hold a 24.1% stake in Nio China while Nio will have a 75.9% controlling equity interesting into the unit.
The company expects the closing of the investments to take place in the second quarter of 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.