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China electric car start-up Nio clinches $1.5B credit line

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Visitors read information about the ES6 SUV at Nio's booth at the Shanghai auto show in 2019. CHINA DAILY

China electric car start-up Nio clinches $1.5B credit line

NIO Inc has secured credit lines worth 10.4 billion yuan ($1.49 billion) from six Chinese banks, which is expected to further consolidate the financial fitness of the leading Chinese electric car start-up.

According to the deal signed on Friday, the lenders including Bank of China Ltd and China Construction Bank Corp will provide the funds to Nio China, which is owned by Nio and located in Hefei, capital of East China’s Anhui province.

Nio said in a statement on Friday: “Nio China will work with the banks extensively in corporate account system building, supply chain financing and auto financing to other business.”

The deal came less than three months after Nio announced its partnership with a group of state-owned investors from Hefei to set up a joint venture called Nio China.

The investors are devoting seven billion yuan in cash for a 24.1 per cent equity, and Nio is injecting its core businesses and assets valued at 17.77 billion yuan and 4.26 billion yuan in cash for a controlling 75.9 per cent stake in the joint venture.

The deal “resolves near-term liquidity concerns around Nio”, Robin Zhu, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein, told Bloomberg after the deal was reached in April.

“Investors can now go back to analysing the demand and cashflow picture,” Zhu said.

Like all electric car start-ups, Nio had been hindered by lack of funding until its decision to partner with Hefei investors.

Nio lost about $1.6 billion last year and had $151.7 million in cash, equivalents and short-term investments left at the end of the year.

For a while, the New York-listed company worried that it may not have enough cash to survive another 12 months.

Before its deal with Hefei investors, the company had raised at least $435 million through short-term convertibles.

Founded in 2014, Nio has been producing vehicles in Hefei in partnership with state-owned Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Holdings Ltd.

Like its financial conditions, its sales are turning for the better as well. Nio delivered 10,331 vehicles in the second quarter of this year, up 190.8 per cent year-over-year.

As of June 30, the start-up’s cumulative deliveries reached 46,082 vehicles, 14,169 of which were delivered this year.

Nio chief financial officer Steven Feng said: “Our deliveries in the second quarter of 2020 exceeded the high end of our earlier projection, and we are confident that our goals on gross margin and operational efficiency will be achieved.”

The carmaker said gross margin improvement is one of its top objectives this year.

Last year, its gross margin was negative 15.3 per cent, with net loss standing at $1.62 billion.

In a March earnings call, Nio said the gross margin will turn positive in the second quarter and reach two digits by the end of the year, as it is optimising the supply chain, negotiating better deals and reducing manufacturing costs by ramping up production.



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