Nissan has announced it has entered into an agreement with GSR Capital (GSR), a private investment fund, for the sale of Nissan’s electric battery operations and production facilities to GSR.
The sale and purchase agreement covers Nissan’s battery subsidiary, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), as well as battery manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee, owned by Nissan North America Inc. (NNA), and in Sunderland, England, owned by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (U.K.) Ltd. (NMUK). Assets sold to GSR will also include part of Nissan’s Japanese battery development and production engineering operations located in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama.
Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, said: “This is a win-win for AESC and Nissan. It enables AESC to utilize GSR’s wide networks and proactive investment to expand its customer base and further increase its competitiveness. In turn, this will further enhance Nissan’s EV competitiveness. AESC will remain a very important partner for Nissan as we deepen our focus on designing and producing market-leading electric vehicles.”
However, the move is a slight gamble, as the cost of batteries could rise once out of Nissan’s control, although the current market trend is downwards for lithium-ion battery pricing.
Sonny Wu, chairman of GSR Capital, added: “The acquisition of AESC represents an important step for us in the new energy vehicle industry chain. We plan to further invest in R&D, expand existing production capacity in the U.S., UK and Japan, and also establish new facilities in China and Europe, enabling us to better serve customers around the world. With these capabilities and plans added to the battery business’ already skilled workforce, high technical capabilities and proven product-quality track record, we will be in a very good position for growth.”
The workforce at all facilities covered by the deal, including the production plants at Zama, Sunderland and Smyrna, will continue to be employed. The headquarters and development centers of the business will remain in Japan. Nissan will implement the transaction by first taking full control of AESC – founded in 2007 to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries – by acquiring the combined 49% minority holding held by NEC Corporation and its wholly owned battery and electrode subsidiary, NEC Energy Devices, Ltd (NECED). NEC today announced its approval of the sale of AESC shares to Nissan and the fact that it is in negotiations with GSR for the sale of NECED.
The battery sale is subject to normal consultation with staff representative bodies and, pending regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed by the end of December 2017. The transaction is contingent on GSR concluding purchase of all NECED shares from NEC. Financial terms have not yet been disclosed.