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China EV maker Zeekr puts U.S. IPO on hold - sources

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a booth of Zeekr, Chinese automaker Geely's premium electric vehicle (EV) brand, at a shopping mall in Beijing

By Julie Zhu and Scott Murdoch

HONG KONG/SYDNEY (Reuters) -Zeekr, the premium electric vehicle (EV) brand of Chinese automaker Geely, has put its U.S. initial public offering (IPO) on hold because of a mismatch in valuation expectations, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The decision was made as global financial markets remain volatile, a third source added. All the sources declined to be identified as the information has not yet been made public.

Zeekr, which publicly filed a prospectus this month to float shares in New York, has aimed to maintain the valuation of $13 billion it achieved in a private fundraising exercise in February, two of the sources said.

But informal talks with potential investors since late August saw some of them put a valuation on the two-year-old firm below the IPO figure, as market sentiment was still weak and the company recently widened losses, they added.

"The company has made a public filing to the SEC and is proceeding with the preparatory work," Zeekr said in a statement, without elaborating.

Zeekr's prospectus disclosed a surge in total revenue to 35.31 billion yuan ($4.9 billion) in the nine months ended Sept. 30, up from 18.47 billion a year earlier. However, its loss from operations widened to 5.23 billion yuan from 4.90 billion.

Some listed peers, such as EV maker Nio, have seen share prices fluctuate or fall in recent months as a price war in China has hit profitability, spurring efforts to cut costs and build partnerships to survive the consolidating competition.

Citing sources, Reuters reported in December that Zeekr had confidentially filed for its IPO, aiming to raise more than $1 billion and go public in New York as early as the second quarter of this year.

Sources told Reuters this month that Zeekr still aimed to raise at least $500 million in the IPO before stepping on the brakes.

Zeekr was formed in 2021 by Geely, formally known as Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, to tap growing Chinese demand for premium EVs.

In February, it raised $750 million from investors including Amnon Shashua, the CEO of autonomous driving technology company Mobileye Global and Chinese battery giant CATL.

Zeekr offers four EV models in China, with its best seller, the 001 crossover, priced from 269,000 yuan ($36,927.22).

It also plans to sell in overseas markets, such as Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands and Sweden, among others.

(Reporting by Julie Zhu and Scott Murdoch; Additional reporting by Kane Wuy; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Clarence Fernandez)

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