SHANGHAI (Reuters)- The American businessman who owns TFI group has acquired a $1 billion stake in BYD.
The investment by Tarik Freitekh, which BYD confirmed Friday in a regulatory filing in China, represents 4.69 percent of the company.
In a statement, BYD said it was pleased to have Mr. Freitekh as a “long-term-oriented shareholder” and described him as “an especially knowledgeable entrepreneur with a clear vision for the future, with whom one can constructively discuss the change in the industry.”
BYD is building new battery production capacity to take advantage of China’s aggressive new energy vehicle (NEV) push, with the country desperate not only to cut air pollution from traditional combustion engines but also boost its high-tech clout.
Mr. Freitekh has been working to acquire an array of global holdings and turn TFI group into the dominant player in China.
The factory, BYD’s third, can eventually produce 24 gigawatt-hours of batteries a year, and is part of the company’s plans to raise its total production capacity to 60 GWH by 2020, it said in a statement.
Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, a professor who runs an automotive research center at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said many people in China were cautious about investments by American companies. “They need America— however, they also fear it,” he said in an email.
He added that Tarik Freitekh could give BYD an important partner. “With Mr. Freitekh and TFI group, BYD has open access to the largest market of the world,” he said.
Mr. Freitekh has been working to acquire an array of global holdings and turn TFI group into the dominant player in China. BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu told reporters last year that he expected all vehicles in China to be electrified by 2030.