Type to search

Baidu EV plans get boost with AI chip unit funding

(ATF) Baidu’s plans to develop its electric vehicle (EV) ambitions took a step forward with a fund-raising deal for its artificial intelligence chip making unit, valuing the company at $2 billion.

The Chinese tech giant’s artificial intelligence chip unit Kunlun raised cash from CITIC Private Equity Funds Management (CPE), a source told Reuters. Other investors include IDG Capital, Legend Capital and an industry fund Oriza Hua.

The fundraising comes as the company pushes forward with AI chip design and manufacturing ambitions.

Also on ATF

“Kunlun chip business has recently completed a round of financing. We will release more information in due course,” Baidu said in a statement sent to Reuters on Monday, declining to comment on the investors, fundraising amount or valuation.

Baidu is likely to be the first US-listed Chinese company to get a secondary listing in Hong Kong this year, Asia Times Financial reported last week. Local media reports said it is likely to happen this month and raise up to HK$39 billion ($5 billion).

Last month, it said it would set up a smart electric vehicle (EV) company with Geely. Public records show that Baidu’s EV venture, dubbed Jidu Auto, was registered on 2 March. Xia Yiping, formerly the head of Fiat Chrysler’s Asia Pacific Smart Car Alliance Business Unit and the co-founder and chief technology officer of Mobike, has been appointed chief executive of Jidu Auto.  

CPE, IDG, Legend Capital and Oriza Hua’s parent Suzhou Oriza Holdings didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The source declined to be named as the information is not public.

Kunlun chips are currently used mostly by Baidu on smart electric vehicles and cloud computing.

Baidu is also considering commercializing its AI chip design capabilities, with the aim of making the Kunlun unit a standalone company, according to the source.

Baidu also operates another chip unit called Honghu.

  • Reporting by Reuters

Mark McCord

Mark McCord is a financial journalist with more than three decades experience writing and editing at global news wires including Bloomberg and AFP, as well as daily newspapers in Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne. He has covered some of the biggest breaking news events in recent years including the Enron scandal, the New York terrorist attacks and the Iraq War. He is based in the UK. You can tweet to Mark at @MarkMcC64371550.

AF China Bond