China's CATL, Ant Financial and Hellobike set up e-bike battery firm

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), Ant Financial Services and Hellobike said on Wednesday they will invest 1 billion yuan ($144.60 million) to establish a electric bicycle battery joint venture.

The battery maker, fintech firm and Alibaba-backed bike-sharing start-up announced the cooperation in a joint statement, which did not disclose the individual shares of the partners in the joint venture.

Hellobike’s existing electric bike service already swaps out 500,000 rechargeable batteries for more than 2 million users a day, they said, adding China now has over 250 million e-bikes.

The joint venture plans to set up a network of storage units that will allow riders to pick up charged batteries on the go.

“We have defined the battery-swapping service as a long-term, basic energy source for society, just like gas stations,” said Hellobike’s Chief Executive Yang Lei.

Hellobike, which is China’s No.3 bike-sharing player and counts Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial as a shareholder, is among a number of startups focused on providing mobility services while CATL is China’s top battery maker.

Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom and Brenda Goh; Editing by Himani Sarkar