BYD's new shares open to subscription

Updated: 2011-06-21 16:58
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BEIJING -- Investors started on Tuesday to subscribe to new shares of BYD Co Ltd, the Chinese car maker backed by US billionaire investor Warren Buffett, after the company set its Shenzhen share offering price at 18 yuan ($2.8) per share a day before.

The company, which already has shares listed in Hong Kong, planned to sell up to 79 million yuan-denominated shares, or A-shares, in an IPO on the Shenzhen bourse, according to a statement filed with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SSE) late Monday.

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BYD chairman and founder Wang Chuanfu said the company aims to focus on new energy-related business while enhancing business in traditional cars and electronic products in an interview with the Xinhua-owned newspaper Shanghai Securities News published Tuesday.

"The strategic goal of BYD is to consolidate our global status as a leader of the secondary battery industry, develop into a leader in the sector of IT component manufacturing and assembling, and become a car maker with global competitiveness," Wang said.

The IPO is being handled by UBS securities. Ding Xiaowen, managing director of UBS Securities investment banking department, identified BYD as a leading provider of all-round new-energy solutions, a leading Chinese car maker, and the world's most competitive provider of mobile phone components and assembling services.

The value of investing in BYD also lies in its ability of "highly vertical integration and low-cost operation," and "strong capabilities in technological research and development (R&D) and innovation," Ding said.

In a statement to the SSE, the automaker, in which Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc has a 9.9 percent stake, said it planned to use the raised money to invest 400 million yuan in a lithium battery production project, 1.14 billion yuan in establishing a researching and manufacturing center, and 652 million yuan on expanding its auto unit projects.

The company's planned IPO and new pledge to focus on battery and IT product R&D came at a time when China's auto sales seem to be slowing after years of boom.

After overtaking the United States to become the world's biggest auto market in 2010, China's auto-sales growth has moderated since the start of this year as the government ended its stimulus measures that supported car purchases.

The company's car sales rose 16 percent to 519,806 vehicles in 2010, decent growth in light of the global average but less than half of the average growth of 32.4 percent in China's total auto industry.

In spite of a 17.8 percent increase in business revenues in 2010 compared with 2009, the Shenzhen-based company's 2010 net profit fell by 33.5 percent from a year earlier to 2.52 billion yuan, due to fierce competition and a reduction in government incentives for auto purchases.

The company saw a decline in the profit rate of its traditionally competitive secondary battery business, which fell from 26.12 percent in 2009 to 19.77 percent in 2011.

Wu Jingsheng, BYD's vice chairman, attributed the lower profit rate to an adjustment of the product structure in which sales of product with lower profits outperformed products with higher profits, and the rising material cost as well as a price drop in the secondary batteries.