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BYD plans Shenzhen float
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Battery and electric car producer BYD Co plans to list itself on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange next year with a 100 million share issue to raise funds for its new energy vehicle projects, according to a senior company official.

The Hong Kong-listed company, partly owned by US billionaire Warren Buffet, got the necessary shareholder approval for the public float at the annual general meeting held in Shenzhen on Tuesday.

"We expect to complete the entire listing procedure before Sept 7 next year," Wang Jianjun, deputy general manager of BYD Auto Sales Co Ltd, told China Daily.

The company had last year toyed with the idea of a mainland public float of 58.5 million shares on the Shenzhen or Shanghai bourse. The present plan to raise funds is a revival of that proposal which was put on hold after China suspended IPO approvals for nearly a year due to the global financial crisis.

Proceeds from the issue would mainly be used for funding the company's lithium-ion battery production, automobile research and development, expansion of products and parts, as well as a solar battery program, with the rest to be used for working capital needs, said Wang.

"BYD will focus on the development of electric cars in the next few years and would make further efforts to lower costs and improve the performance of BYD electric vehicles, to popularize it among Chinese consumers," he said.

BYD will also start selling its F3DM plug-in hybrid cars to individual consumers from next month.

The hybrid model also figures in the first batch of new-energy vehicles that have got regulatory approval for production and sale from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

"We are applying for the government subsidy for our F3DM, which qualifies for the highest level of as much as 50,000 yuan per unit," said Wang. "The subsidy will help promote the sales of clean vehicles."

BYD's Chairman Wang Chuanfu said earlier this month that billionaire Buffett is contemplating increasing his 10 percent stake in the company. Buffett had acquired the 10 percent stake for US$230 million last September.

Since the deal was announced, the automaker jumped fivefold in Hong Kong trading helped by Buffett's investment and rising demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc has also earned a US$1 billion paper profit from its investment.

BYD aims to more than double vehicle sales this year to 400,000 units. First-half sales more than doubled to 176,814, helped by demand for the F3, China's fourth bestselling car, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

(China Daily September 11, 2009)

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