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China: 10 ways Chinese investors are dominating cleantech

You’ve heard it off and on throughout 2011 and 2012: Chinese investors and the Chinese government are starting to aggressively fund U.S.-based cleantech startups from electric vehicle companies to clean power developers. There’s been a half dozen of these deals in recent weeks and months, so I thought I’d put together this list to point out the 10 big ones I’ve noticed:

1). GreatPoint Energy and China Wanxiang Holdings: At one point GreatPoint Energy, a company that converts coal into cleaner-burning natural gas, had an investor list that was led by the who’s who of Silicon Valley’s greentech ambitions, including Kleiner Perkins, Advanced Technology Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Khosla Ventures. But according to DowJones Venture Wire last week, GreatPoint Energy has now developed a $1.25 billion partnership with industrial parts supplier China Wanxiang Holdings, including a $420 million Series D equity investment.

The article calls the deal “the largest ever by a Chinese corporation into a venture-capital-funded U.S. company.” GreatPoint Energy will use the money partly to build a large-scale plant in China to convert coal into natural gas using GreatPoint’s process called hydromethanation.

2). Smith Electric Vehicles and Wanxiang Group: GreatPoint Energy isn’t the only one that’s teamed up with Wanxiang. I reported last week that electric car company Smith Electric Vehicles is in the process of raising $40 million from private investors. And days after that article, Smith announced that Wanxiang Group has signed a letter of intent for a $25 million equity investment into Smith and an up to a $75 million investment in a JV between Smith and Wanxiang to make electric school buses and commercial vehicles.

Smith filed for an IPO in November 2011. The company sells electric trucks and vans for companies’ fleet operations and counts customers like Coca-Cola, Fed-Ex, Staples, and Sainsburys, as well as the military.

3). Bridgelux and Kaistar: California-based LED lighting startup Bridgelux announced last week that it’s getting $25 million from Kaistar, a joint venture between two public Chinese companies, Epistar and Kaifa. Bridgelux plans to use the funds for research, development and manufacturing of LED chips and packaging for light fixtures.

Bridgelux had already raised a massive $220 million in private funding and in previous years Bridgelux was on the short list for an IPO.
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