China regulator approves battery giant CATL's $2 billion IPO: Xinhua

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the R&D centre of Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) in Ningde, Zhejiang province, China, December 16, 2016. Picture taken December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Jake Spring

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s securities regulator has approved the 13.1 billion yuan ($1.97 billion) initial public offering of Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) approved the IPO at a meeting on Wednesday, Xinhua said, citing a statement on the CSRC website.

CATL said the funds from the listing on the Shenzhen bourse will help drive the company’s expansion at a time when demand for electric car batteries is expected to soar.

The approval comes amid a CSRC push to encourage new listings by “unicorn companies”, or startups valued at more than $1 billion, said Xinhua.

The Ningde-based CATL is a supplier to domestic carmakers like SAIC Motor Corp Ltd 600104.SS and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd 0175.HK and has agreements with international automakers like BMW BMWG.DE and Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE.

China, struggling with alarming pollution levels in major cities, is aggressively pushing plug-in vehicles and has poured in tens of billions of yuan in investment, research funding and subsidies, drawing many new automakers to launch projects.

Strict quotas for electric and hybrid cars are set to come into effect next year in China, home to the world’s biggest auto market, in line with Beijing’s efforts to make the country a world leader in new-energy vehicles and related technologies.

Reporting by Engen Tham; Editing by Himani Sarkar