Lotus is to list its electric car business in the US in a $5.4bn deal backed by the world’s richest man, Bernard Arnault.
Lotus Technology, the EV division of the British car marquee, is to merge with a special acquisition company (SPAC) listed in New York.
The SPAC is backed by L Catterton, a private equity business part-owned by the Arnault family.
Mr Arnault, the chief of luxury group LVMH, is the world’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $189bn. His exposure to the EV market through the Lotus Technology deal puts him in competition with the world’s second richest man, Tesla chief Elon Musk.
Unlike Tesla, Norfolk-headquartered Lotus is only in the early stages of adapting its range of sports cars to battery power.
Lotus unveiled its all-electric Eletre sport utility vehicle last year and plans to launch a rival to Porsche’s popular Taycan EV in 2023.
Qingfeng Feng chief executive at Lotus Tech said: “We believe the listing will help position Lotus Tech as a leading global luxury EV company and will enable us to further execute our strategy, accelerate our growth, and importantly, further our mission to steer the industry towards a more sustainable future.”
Lotus told investors last year that it plans to sell 100,000 cars per year by 2028, of which 90,000 will be electric saloons and SUVs produced by Lotus Technology.
However, the company delivered just 1,710 vehicles in 2021.
Tesla, by comparison, delivered around 1.3m vehicles last year.
Lotus Tech is a subsidiary of the British carmaking group, which was acquired by Chinese company Geely in 2017. Geely and other owners are expected to retain an 89.7pc shareholding in Lotus Tech after the SPAC merger.
Geely’s billionaire owner Li Shufu also controls Swedish carmaker Volvo and owns stakes in Germany’s Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin.
Several car makers have been listed on the stock market in recent years, unwinding decades of consolidation. Brands and divisions are increasingly being spun-out as executives seek to tap into the higher valuations attached to electric car makers and certain brands.
Porsche pulled off Europe’s largest initial public offering in a decade last year after it debuted in Frankfurt. A week later, it overtook Volkswagen as Europe’s most valuable automaker.