Geely founder’s venture buys majority stake in Chinese smartphone maker Meizu

SHANGHAI, June 13 (Reuters) – A venture run by the founder of Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding (GEELY.UL) plans to acquire an 79% stake in Chinese smartphone maker Meizu, a statement published by China’s anti-monopoly regulator showed on Monday.

The State Administration of Market Regulation said that Hubei Xingji Shidai Technology Co Ltd had agreed to purchase the stake from two of Meizu’s shareholders. It did not give a value for the deal.

Xingji Shidai and Meizu both said in similar statements that they had signed a strategic investment agreement but the deal was still being reviewed by regulators and details were still being negotiated.

Geely said in a statement to a Reuters query about the deal that there was a “close connection in technologies” between vehicle cockpits and smartphone software.

Xingji Shidai was launched by Geely’s chairman Eric Li last year as part of a push into premium smartphones, making the Volvo owner the first established carmaker to enter the highly competitive sector. Li owns a 55% stake in Xingji Shidai.

Reuters reported in September that the venture aims to release its first smartphone by 2023 and sell 3 million units in its first year, citing an internal memo.

The memo also said that the project will be funded with a 10 billion yuan ($1.55 billion) investment and is targeting revenue of 10 billion yuan in its first year.

Established in 2003, Meizu was once one of China’s best-known smartphone brands but it has in recent years lost ground to local rivals like Xiaomi (1810.HK), Oppo and Vivo.