Lotus Technology, the electric-car unit owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, agreed to merge with a blank-check company in a transaction that values the combined entity at about $5.4 billion.
L Catterton Asia Acquisition will combine with the EV making subsidiary of the automaking group that Geely acquired back in 2017, the two said on Tuesday.
The special purpose acquisition company’s sponsor has ties to Bernard Arnault, the world’s richest man.
Lotus Tech has been looking to go public since at least early last year. Management may have been encouraged by another luxury auto brand’s recent listing: Porsche pulled off Europe’s largest initial public offering in a decade when it debuted in Frankfurt in September.
A week later, Porsche overtook Volkswagen Group as Europe’s most valuable automaker.
Rather than go the IPO route, Lotus Tech will merge with a SPAC whose sponsor combined with the private equity operations of Arnault’s luxury-goods powerhouse LVMH in 2016.
LVMH is a passive minority investor in L Catterton, according to a spokeswoman.
Arnault overtook Tesla CEO Elon Musk as the world’s richest man last month — the first time a European claimed the top spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
While Lotus Group is tiny compared to Tesla, Geely has been steering it away from combustion engines and has several full-electric models planned for the coming years.
Lotus Tech sees itself as a competitor to the likes of Ferrari and Aston Martin, and will get a jump on new full-electric cars from those brands.
Lotus unveiled its full-electric Eletre SUV last year and plans to launch a rival to Porsche’s popular Taycan EV in 2023.
Geely and other owners are expected to retain an 89.7 percent shareholding in Lotus Tech after the SPAC merger.
Geely’s billionaire owner Li Shufu also controls Swedish automaker Volvo Car and owns stakes in Germany’s Mercedes-Benz and the UK’s Aston Martin.
Deutsche Bank advised Lotus Tech on the deal, while Credit Suisse Group acted as capital markets adviser to the SPAC.