How China’s CATL Became the Leading Manufacturer of Electric Car Batteries

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CATL’s IPO in 2018 made Mr. Zeng and two vice chairmen of CATL, who together own a 40 percent stake, rich. Other early investors, some with deep political ties, also did well.

The company’s success was never assured, but China had told the world that it intended to dominate the electric vehicle industry. It said in a comprehensive announcement in 2016 that a “third industrial revolution” with a focus on digitization and “new energy” would enable China to take the lead in automobiles.

CATL invited some outside investors to participate before going public. Among them were Pei Zhenhua, a businessman who started a lithium processing company with CATL, and Yu Yong, the largest single shareholder in China Molybdenum, a CATL partner in the Congo. Mr. Yu’s holding company controls 1.69 percent of CATL, records show.

One mutual fund, Guokai Boyu, invested more than $ 100 million and held a 1.2 percent stake. Guokai Boyu is controlled by a private equity firm co-founded by Alvin Jiang, a grandson of Jiang Zemin, former head of the Chinese Communist Party. The fund did not respond to requests for comment.

One of the Fund’s partners in this investment was a subsidiary of a financial firm called the National Trust. National Trust in the past teamed up with the family of Wen Jiabao, the former prime minister, in other investments. It was partial in possession Supervised by a close business partner of the Wen family and another. It is not clear whether the Wen family had any financial stake in CATL. The National Trust phone rang unanswered and the company did not respond to faxes.

An even earlier investor in CATL was a Chinese private equity firm affiliated with Hunter Biden, the son of the American president.

The company, known as BHR, bought a 0.4 percent stake in 2016 and paid around $ 15 million. In 2019, as BHR applied To sell the stake, it was valued at around $ 76 million.


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