Ballard closes $184m deal, shifts more ownership to China

Weichai Power Co., Ltd. takes a 19.9% stake in Ballard Power Systems

Ballard's head office in Burnaby

Ballard Power Systems (Nasdaq: BLDP) has closed a $184-million deal previously announced over the summer, shifting more of its ownership to its partners in China.

The Burnaby-based tech firm specializing in hydrogen fuel cells announced November 13 it’s finalized an agreement with Weichai Power Co., Ltd., that sees the Chinese firm acquire a 19.9% ownership stake in exchange for $163.6 million.

As part of the deal one of Ballard’s existing Chinese investors, Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Co., Ltd., is investing another $20.2 million to maintain its 9.9% ownership stake in the Canadian company.

"This strategic collaboration with Weichai — a leading automotive equipment manufacturer specializing in the production of powertrains, automobiles, intelligent logistics, automotive parts and components — underscores our high conviction in the opportunity for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs, in China's Heavy Duty Motive market," Ballard president and CEO Randy MacEwen said in a statement. 

The arrangement creates a joint venture that commits Weichai to building a minimum of 2,000 fuel-cell modules for commercial vehicles in China by 2021.

Ballard will hold a 49% ownership position in the joint venture, while Weichai will be entitled to nominate two directors to Ballard’s board for as long as it holds at least a 15% stake in the Canadian company.

Weichai is also permitted to make a “superior proposal” to acquire Ballard if a third party offers to buy the fuel-cell company, according to the agreement.

torton@biv.com

@reporton