Exclusive-Geely’s Zeekr edges closer to US IPO, to make filing public this week – sources

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Zeekr, Chinese automaker Geely’s premium electric car brand, will this week publicly release some details of its plans to list shares in New York, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, seeking to ride growing enthusiasm for EVs despite strained U.S.-China ties.

The EV brand will publish its prospectus and its shares could start being traded on the bourse within weeks of the announcement, the sources said.

Both sources declined to be identified discussing confidential information.

The underwriters are led by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, one source said, adding the size and price of the float will be decided later.

Zeekr, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs all declined comment.

Zeekr confidentially filed for a U.S. initial public offering last December, aiming to raise more than $1 billion, Reuters has reported.

However, the company is likely to raise less than the targeted amount from the IPO, one of the sources said.

A confidential filing allows companies to keep details from rivals longer and gives them added flexibility particularly when a timeline for an IPO is not fixed.

The IPO could mark the first major float by a Chinese company in the United States in two years since Beijing tightened its grip on overseas share sales in 2021 — a shift triggered by a cybersecurity probe into ride-hailing giant Didi Global on the heels of its U.S. stock market debut.

In February, Zeekr raised $750 million in a funding round that valued the brand at $13 billion from investors including Amnon Shashua, the CEO of autonomous driving technology company Mobileye Global – majority owned by Intel Corp – and Chinese battery giant CATL.

A price war started by Tesla in China at the beginning of the year is hitting the profitability of pure EV makers, which have stepped up efforts to prune costs and build partnerships to survive the consolidating competition.

However, Zeekr, which is able to utilise Zhejiang Geely Holding Group’s manufacturing facilities and cost-saving capabilities, has seen its profitability improve.

CEO Andy An told reporters in August that Zeekr achieved a double-digit gross profit in the first half of this year, compared to a 5% gross profit in 2022.

Zeekr, established in 2021, ranked 13th in EV sales in China among all brands with 79,028 units sold in the first nine months, more than double the same period in 2022.

It offers four EV models in China, with its 001 crossover priced from 269,000 yuan ($36,927.22) as its best-selling EV.

Zeekr has also announced plans to sell into overseas markets including the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan among others.

($1 = 7.2846 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Zhang Yan in Shanghai and Scott Murdoch in Sydney. Additional reporting by Kane Wu in Hong Kong; Editing by Kim Coghill)