Chinese President Xi Jinping told the bosses of CATL – Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd – on Monday that he had mixed feelings about its status as the world’s largest battery maker.
In response to a presentation by CATL chairman Zeng Yuqun, who described how the Chinese firm now owns a 37% share of the global battery market, Xi was quoted as saying that he was “both happy and worried”, glad about its leading position but concerned about the risks given its high profile.
These were rare remarks from the president about one of the country’s most globally competitive sectors.
Xi made the comments during a closed-door meeting with industry and commerce representatives during the annual session of parliament, according to a statement published by the official Xinhua news agency on Tuesday.
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His remarks come at a time when CATL is building factories abroad and last month signed a deal to license its technology to a new electric vehicle battery plant Ford Motor Co is building in Michigan.
They follow negative sentiment expressed in the United States about Chinese companies such as CATL wanting to set up factories there.
CATL has also offered to cut costs for Chinese automakers, sources have said, a move that demonstrates its market power and could also widen China’s cost advantage in electric vehicles.
CATL did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Xinhua did not say whether Zeng had responded to Xi during the session.
The Chinese battery giant is looking to raise at least $5 billion by listing global depositary receipts in Switzerland in coming months, according to a report in early February, which said the size of the deal could increase to $8 billion if market conditions improved before the deal is launched.
CATL, which supplies automakers including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW and Nio, raised $6.7 billion in a private placement last June, which was one of the world’s largest equity capital market transactions for 2022.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
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