Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio Ltd. (NYSE: NIO) on Wednesday announced an investment of RMB7 billion ($990 million) from a group of investors including the city and provincial government entities in Nio China, a new entity that will be 75.9% owned by Nio and 24.1% owned by the other investors.
In February, Nio announced a framework agreement with the municipal government of Hefei, a city of more than 4.2 million residents in Anhui province located about 200 miles west of Shanghai. Hefei is Nio’s main manufacturing and assembly center. In exchange for the investment, Nio agreed to move its headquarters to the city and deepen its “relationship with local ecosystem partners in Hefei.” The investment amount was reported to be $1.4 billion.
Since its initial public offering in September of 2018 at $6.26 per American depositary share (ADS), Nio’s share price has dropped by nearly 50%. The deal announced in February was widely seen as a bailout of the struggling automaker. That announcement boosted the share price to $4.40. Tuesday’s closing price of $3.34 was 25% lower.
Under the terms of the deal announced Wednesday, Nio is contributing RMB17.7 billion ($2.51 billion) to Nio China, an amount equal to 85% of Nio’s average market cap for the 30 days preceding April 21. Nio also will invest RMB4.26 billion ($600 million) in cash into the new entity.
No matter how one looks at it, this latest deal is still a bailout for a company that wants to compete in its home country with Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA). But as both companies suffered from the coronavirus outbreak in China, both seem to be recovering. Nio CEO William Li told CNBC Wednesday morning that the company has not lowered its full-year forecast as a result of the outbreak: “There was certainly some impact in the first quarter, but for the second quarter, right now we don’t think there is much of an impact to the original plan.”
Nio’s ADSs traded up about 14% shortly after markets opened Wednesday, at $3.81 in a 52-week range of $1.19 to $5.65. The 12-month price target on the stock is $20.86, a pie-in-the-sky number if there ever was one.