Stake sale to benefit Gree Electric

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People visit the newly-opened Gree store in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 28, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

An ownership shake-up in Zhuhai, Guangdong province-based Chinese appliances giant Gree Electric Appliances Inc will not only boost its market competitiveness, but help it to effectively diversify operations in the future, an industry expert said on Tuesday.

"Introduction of strategic investors will help optimize the company's ownership structure and boost its strength amid fierce competition in the air conditioner and home appliances sector," said Liu Buchen, an independent researcher on the home appliances sector.

The Zhuhai city government-backed Zhuhai Gree Group Co Ltd, the parent company of Gree Electric, is considering selling most of its 18.22 percent stake in the subsidiary in a deal that could be worth up to 41 billion yuan ($6.1 billion). It is involved in a variety of businesses covering manufacturing, financial investment, construction investment, construction and installation and island tourism.

In a statement filed to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Gree said its parent will sell a 15 percent stake at a price no less than the company's average stock price of the last 30 trading days. It, however, did not identify the acquirer of the stake in the statement.

"The transaction, which will lead to a change in the ownership of the refrigerator and air conditioner maker, will help diversify its business by introducing more strategic investors," Liu was quoted as saying by the China Business News.

As a traditional manufacturer in the home appliances industry, Gree Electric should look for business expansion in areas such as big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and the internet of things to support its future development, Liu said.

"In the global market, home appliances makers are bracing for changes as a result of artificial intelligence-powered technologies. Gree's decision to sell shares will help introduce more investors to the booming AI and big data technologies," Liu added.

Dong Mingzhu, president of Gree Electric, who owns 0.74 percent of the company's shares, said in an earlier interview with China Daily that the company would press ahead with reforms of its ownership structure.

"We need to look for more opportunities in more new industrial areas to maintain sustainable development in the future," said Dong.

In 2018, Gree Electric accounts for about 22 percent of the global market for air conditioners, the backbone business of the company.

According to the company's annual report, Gree Electric's revenue surpassed 200 billion yuan in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 33 percent.

As Gree Group is controlled by the Zhuhai local government, the deal will require approval from the State assets' regulator and the parent company is still studying the proposal, according to the statement.

Gree Electric shares resumed trading on Tuesday, after being suspended last Monday. Shares of the company surged by the daily 10 percent limit to 51.93 yuan per share on Tuesday.

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