Nissan to sell its electric battery business to GSR Capital

FILE PHOTO - The Nissan logo is seen at the 2017 New York International Auto Show in New York City, U.S. on April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co said on Tuesday it has agreed to sell its electric battery business to Chinese investment firm GSR Capital for an undisclosed sum.

The business to be sold to GSR includes battery plants in Tennessee, England and Japan, the Japanese automaker said in a statement.

Nissan will first take full control of the business - Automotive Energy Supply Corp - by buying the combined 49 percent minority stake held by NEC Corp and its subsidiary NEC Energy Devices. NEC Corp said it has approved the sale of its stake.

Including the NEC stake, GSR Capital has agreed to pay Nissan a total of $1 billion for the deal, according to a person with direct knowledge. A spokesman for Nissan could not be reached for comment.

GSR, which has invested in clean technology and electric cars, is also looking to buy a substantial holding in Chile’s Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (SQM), one of the world’s biggest lithium producers, Reuters reported in July.

The firm, currently managing a $5 billion M&A fund, mainly targets foreign industrial and emerging technology companies, including electric car batteries and pharmaceuticals firms.

Beijing is promoting electric vehicles to combat air pollution and help domestic carmakers leapfrog the combustion engine to build global auto brands, making battery and lithium producers attractive assets for Chinese firms.

Reporting by Kane Wu in Hong Kong, Chris Gallagher and Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Maki Shiraki; Editing by Stephen Coates