How CALB is changing roles to become China’s third-largest electric battery manufacturer
In March this year, Chinese battery manufacturer CALB Co., Ltd. (“CALB”) has filed an IPO application on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with the aim of raising up to $1.5 billion. It could be the biggest IPO in Hong Kong so far this year.
CALB noted in the prospectus that the net proceeds will be used to build and develop a number of production base projects for the EV battery and energy storage system (ESS).
CALB has so far completed three rounds of financing, resulting in the company currently being valued at over 60 billion yuan ($8.971 billion).
In 2021, CALB recorded an annual installed capacity of power batteries of 9.05 GWh, which accounts for 5.9% of China’s total volume and ranks third among power battery manufacturers in China, according to data from the China Automotive Power Battery Industry Innovation Alliance (CAPBIIA).
Photo credit: CALB
Although CALB is still far behind the top 2 players, CATL and BYD, the company has made substantial progress over the past three years. In terms of annual installed capacity of power banks, CALB rose to second place last year, rising from sixth place in 2019, with an annual growth rate of more than 130% for two consecutive years.
While getting its business back on track, CALB is also vigorously pursuing the strengthening of its battery production capacity. At a strategy launch event in November last year, the battery maker announced it had raised its annual generation capacity target to 500 GWh by 2025 and 1 TWh by 2030. Thus, the successful public listing should help the company to diversify its financing channels, in order to raise the necessary capital to achieve the expansion goal.
In this article, Gasgoo will help you better understand CALB by summarizing the company’s development history and offering you the key information on its financial performance, R&D investment, technical advantages, production capacity, etc.
CALB’s history dates back to 2007, when China Airborne Missile Academy (“Missile Academy”) established Sky Energy (Luoyang) Co., Ltd. (“Sky Energy”) in Luoyang City, Henan Province, which was engaged in manufacturing LFP. Battery. Sky Energy was universally considered the predecessor of the current CALB.
Then, in 2009, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Ltd. (“AVIC”), a Chinese state-owned aerospace and defense conglomerate, and Missile Academy restructured Sky Energy, which was later renamed China Lithium Battery Technology (Luoyang) Co., Ltd. (“Luoyang Company”) in September of the same year. It should be noted that Missile Academy is a public institution set up by AVIC.
In 2010, AVIC made capital increases of Luoyang Company through some of its subsidiaries, including Sichuan Chengfei Integration Technology Co., Ltd. (“CITC”) took the majority of the shares following the capital increase.
As China adopted policies to vigorously promote New Energy Vehicles (“NEVs”) in 2009, the automotive industry was faced with growing demand for electric batteries. The favorable winds of politics paved the way for the flourishing development of Luoyang Company after the aforementioned capital increase. According to data provided by CITC’s annual results and compiled by Gasgoo, Luoyang Company accounted for up to 63.31% of CITC’s annual revenue in 2016, rising from 28.37% in 2011. In the same year, Luoyang Company gained 110.83 million yuan ($16,572). million) in annual net profit, recording a year-on-year increase for the second year in a row.
Luoyang Company has taken the commercial vehicle (“CV”) field as a gateway, as government policies have prioritized the promotion of NEV in the CV field at an early stage. As part of this development path, the company quickly obtained a multitude of customer CVs with the support of its public parent company.
After peaking in 2016, its net profit plunged precipitously into a loss of 334.56 million yuan ($50.025 million) in 2017 and then bottomed out in 2018.
One of the main factors behind the plunge is that government subsidy policies set for 2017 and 2018 were changed to promote higher energy density, longer life batteries, leading manufacturers Chinese NEV to install ternary batteries in their new models. Meanwhile, the government has also cut subsidies on new energy commercial vehicles. Amid these changes, the battery maker failed to adjust its CV-driven strategy in a timely manner, failing to keep up with the rat race of the market.
The company’s money-losing status weighed heavily on CITC’s financial performance. In 2018, the parent company posted a net loss attributable to shareholders of about 204.655 million yuan ($30.6 million) and saw its gross margin drop 9.51 percentage points year-on-year to 1.46 %. CITC said the lower gross margin was primarily the result of lower gross margin in its lithium battery business.
In March 2019, trading in Shenzhen-listed CITC was temporarily suspended for a day with its stock name prefixed with “ST,” indicating that the company was about to be delisted.
Rebirth with the help of Jintan District Government
For the sake of recovery, CITC needs to properly handle the CALB issue. At the critical moment, the government of Jintan District, Changzhou City lent a helping hand.
According to CALB’s prospectus, it was established in Changzhou City, Jiangsu Province as a limited liability company on December 8, 2015, originally named CALB Technology Holding Co., Ltd. (“CALB Technology”). When established, CALB Technology was 50% owned by Jinsha Investment, 30% by Luoyang Company and 20% by Huake Investment. Notably, Jinsha Investment and Huake Investment are ultimately owned by the Jintan District Government. Luoyang Company was still the majority shareholder of CALB Technology as it had the right to exercise 51% of the voting rights in the latter.
Subsequently, CALB Technology carried out a restructuring in 2019. In April 2019, Luoyang Company transferred its 30% stake in CALB Technology to CITC, while carrying out capital increases of CALB Technology through CITC, Jinsha Investment and Huake Investment. Upon completion of the restructuring in July 2019, CALB Technology ultimately became controlled
by Jintan Group (abbreviation used to name a group of investors based in Jintan, including Jinsha Investment, Huake Engineering, Huake Investment, Jintan International, Jintan Hualuogeng and Jintan Holding).
Between August 2019 and November 2021, CALB Technology carried out a series of capital increases and attracted new shareholders and investors, such as Lihang Jinzhi, Jinyuan Industry, employee shareholding platforms, Xiaomi Yangtze River Industry and Chuanghe Xincai .
On November 18, 2021, the company name was officially renamed to CALB Co., Ltd. from CALB Technology, which means it ushered in a new era of development.
For ease of description, we will use “the company” or “CALB” to refer to both “CALB Technology” and “CALB Co., Ltd.” “. in the following content.
Today’s CALB Industry Position
Through several years of efforts, CALB has shown obvious recovery in both revenue and profit, and made significant progress in technology development and production capacity expansion.
After hitting an all-time low in 2018, CALB’s annual net loss declined significantly year-over-year in 2019 and 2021, and the company returned to being a profitable business in 2021.
In terms of annual revenue, CALB was significantly outperformed by CATL and even trailed its main rival Gotion High-Tech. Nonetheless, its annual revenue jumped 141.3 percent from a year earlier to reach 6.817 billion yuan ($1.019 billion) in 2021.
CALB’s rapid revenue growth has come at the expense of a relatively low profit margin. Its annual gross margin has for years been lower than that of the power lithium battery business of CATL and Gotion High-Tech. In 2021, the Company saw its annual gross margin decline by 8.1 percentage points year-over-year to just 5.5%.
Despite the low gross margin, CALB still recorded an annual operating profit of 113.122 million yuan ($16.9 million) in 2021, indicating the company’s outstanding performance in cost control.
CALB’s R&D investment was 285.256 million yuan ($42.653 million) in 2021, which was only 4.18% of the company’s annual revenue. The proportion was lower than CATL and Gotion High-Tech.
On the technology and product side, CALB mainly works on improving battery safety and improving the energy density of a cell by increasing the battery voltage.
At the battery system level, CALB has released the One-stop solution Bettery and the Battery Magazine, which is expected to be the same announced by GAC AION.
Regarding customers, CALB has relatively fewer global OEM customers than CATL, BYD and Gotion High-Tech. His commands are very concentrated. According to the prospectus, the contribution of the Company’s top 5 customers to its 2021 revenue amounts to 82.9%.
As for battery production capacity, CALB’s annual production capacity reached 11.9 GWh from 2021, up 189.5% year on year.
Despite the current gap, CALB has always set itself an ambitious goal of expanding production capacity. It aims to reach an annual capacity of 500 GWh by 2025, after only CATL, BYD and SVOLT among its Chinese peers. It was also the first in China to announce the goal of reaching 1 TWh per year by 2030.
Aerial view of CALB’s Meishan power bank and energy storage system base; photo credit: CALB
CALB has so far expanded its existing production bases and built new production bases at various locations, including Changzhou, Xiamen, Chengdu, Wuhan, Hefei, Jiangmen and Meishan. Its industrial bases and R&D centers in Europe and North America have entered the planning phase.
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