Nissan to offload electric battery business to Chinese private equity firm GSR Capital

Rebecca Smith
The sale covers Nissan's battery subsidiary and operations in Sunderland
The sale covers Nissan's battery subsidiary and operations in Sunderland (Source: Getty)

Nissan and NEC have announced the sale of their rechargeable electric battery joint venture to a Chinese private equity firm.

Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) was set up by Nissan and NEC back in 2007 to produce lithium-ion batteries for the car firm, but today Nissan said it is offloading the unit to GSR Capital, a Chinese private equity fund.

The Japanese car firm is first buying the 49 per cent stake owned by NEC and its battery and electrode subsidiary NEC Energy Devices, and will proceed with the sale once it has full control of the business.

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NEC confirmed today it had approved the sale of AESC shares to Nissan.

The deal includes battery plants in Sunderland in England, as well as Tennessee in the US. Nissan said the workforce "at all facilities covered by the deal", including the production plant at Sunderland, will continue to be employed. The headquarters and development centres of the business will remain in Japan.

Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, said:

This is a win-win for AESC and Nissan. It enables AESC to utilise 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.

Nissan said the deal is subject to normal consultation with staff representative bodies, and, "pending regulatory approvals", is expected to be completed by the end of December.

Sonny Wu, chairman of GSR Capital, said: “The acquisition of AESC represents an important step for us in the new energy vehicle industry chain. We plan to further invest in R&D, expand existing production capacity in the US, 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.”

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