- Transaction values ECARX at $3.82 billion pro forma equity value, or pre-money equity value of $3.4 billion
- Assumes $300 million cash held in trust by COVA Acquisition Corp. and includes $45 million in additional capital from strategic partners, Geely Holding Group and Luminar, and convertible note holder Lotus Technology
- Proceeds from the transaction will enable ECARX to accelerate its technology development and product roll-out, strategic acquisitions and investments, and international expansion
- Proven track record of success serving 12 OEM brands, including the Geely Auto Group, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Proton and smart, and eight Tier 1 automotive suppliers worldwide; ECARX generated $436 million in revenue in 2021
- Strong revenue growth expected from continuous product development and delivery of full-stack mobility tech solution that will enable enhanced user experiences as global automakers accelerate the launch of new connected cars, underpinned by increasing levels of vehicle intelligence
ECARX Holdings, Inc. (“ECARX”), a global mobility tech company, has entered into a merger agreement with COVA Acquisition Corp. (“COVA”) and upon completion of the transaction expects to be listed on Nasdaq under ticker symbol “ECX”. The closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2022.
ECARX develops hardware and software solutions that are essential for the development of connected, automated and electrified mobility, which it supplies to the global automotive industry as it rapidly transforms to meet evolving consumer demands. Over the last three years, ECARX’s technology has been integrated into more than 3.2 million cars worldwide.
As a leader in the design, development and delivery of intelligent vehicle technology, ECARX is poised to benefit from the shift towards fully electric platforms, connected cars, and automated driving technologies. As automakers develop new vehicle platforms for these emerging trends, electronic components are expected to represent a greater portion of the product value on these new platforms as software further enables onboard experiences and demand for advanced computing products like those produced by ECARX is expected to rise significantly over the next decade. Furthermore, ECARX’s strategic OEM collaborations, starting from the early stages of a vehicle’s development cycle, provide the ability to deliver a fast, robust product roadmap and to build an automotive technology platform that best meets customers’ needs.
ECARX was co-founded in 2017 by Ziyu Shen, Chairman and CEO, and by Eric Li (Li Shufu), the company’s largest investor. Mr. Li is also the founder and chairman of the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd. (“Geely”), one of the largest automotive groups in the world. Since inception, ECARX has benefited from its connection and privileged access to Geely and has growth potential within the Geely ecosystem, which comprises Geely Automobile Holdings Limited (“Geely Auto”), including the Geely, Geometry, Lynk & Co, and Zeekr brands, as well as Lotus, Proton, smart, Volvo Cars, and other OEMs that are affiliated with Geely or in which it is a long-term shareholder.
Ziyu Shen, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of ECARX:
“The global auto industry is experiencing the fastest transformation in its history – the era of internal combustion engines and horsepower is over. We believe vehicle DNA will transform more in the next decade than it has in the past hundred years, and this shift will drive an extensive change in OEM vehicle development, calling for all-new platforms, advanced computing power and continuous over-the-air software updates. ECARX’s vertically integrated, full-stack automotive computing platform and underlying core technologies are designed to help meet this evolving demand head-on. COVA’s leadership team has an exceptional track record backing high growth ventures, and we look forward to unlocking partnerships and paths for collaboration to accelerate development of next-generation technologies.”
Jun Hong Heng, Chairman of the Board and CEO of COVA:
“Guided by the ambitions of co-founders Ziyu Shen and Eric Li (Li Shufu), ECARX is building on its strong foundation to forge new runways for growth both within China and internationally as it continues to scale. ECARX fits squarely into our approach and investment philosophy, which focuses on industries being disrupted by advances in technology and artificial intelligence. Together, we will create revolutionary solutions to shape the future of mobility.”
Eric Li (Li Shufu), Co-founder and Largest Investor of ECARX:
“ECARX is a pureplay company focused on intelligent technology, and its success speaks volumes about the level of focus and execution that the team brings to its customers and partners. I’m especially excited that the company is taking steps to strengthen its European market presence, while accelerating its international expansion plans through its partnership with COVA.”
Key Investment Highlights
ECARX is well-positioned to seize the growth opportunity presented by the rapid transition of the auto industry to fully connected and autonomous electrified vehicles. Next-generation vehicles will require advanced computing processing power driven by central computing functions, controlling major systems for safe assisted driving, infotainment, over-the-air-updates, data-management and driver/passenger communications.
- Strong, established customer base with growing revenue streams – ECARX works alongside global brands in a highly integrated way from the early stages in the product cycle to identify trends and plan, pilot and test differentiated solutions that enable and enhance the onboard experience. Through its deep connection with Geely and the Geely ecosystem, ECARX has existing business relationships with major OEM brands.
- Unique product development and go-to-market strategies – ECARX benefits from strategic relationships that create robust pathways to third party OEMs and international growth, with multiple development and commercialization opportunities. Through its privileged access to Geely as well as its joint ventures and strategic co-development partnerships that facilitate capital efficient product development, ECARX has unparalleled industry insight that accelerates and informs its future product pipeline.
- Robust product roadmap – ECARX’s world-class engineers have a clear platform roadmap consisting of a combined System-on-a-Chip (SoC) core modules and a versatile Operating System (OS) that simplify and speed up product development. Currently under development is an automotive central computing platform, an operating system and software to deliver the digital cockpit, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and unsupervised driving (AD) and functional safety solutions. Most recently, the company signed a collaboration agreement with Luminar to further advance its ADAS and AD technologies.
- Proven record of success – ECARX is led by a seasoned management team with deep international industry experience. Since its founding, the company has grown to serve 12 OEM brands, including the Geely Auto Group, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Proton and smart, and eight Tier 1 automotive suppliers worldwide. There is ample runway for growth within China and internationally as ECARX scales and expands its global reach.
- Clear path to profitability – ECARX is expected to achieve adjusted EBITDA profitability by the end of 2024, driven primarily by rapid top-line growth from its existing and growing customer base, rapid execution of its robust technology development roadmap, and international expansion.
The transaction represents a combined company pro forma equity value of approximately $3.82 billion, assuming no redemptions by COVA’s shareholders. It includes $300 million cash held in trust by COVA Acquisition Corp. as well as $45 million in additional capital from strategic partners, Geely Holding Group and Luminar, and convertible note holder Lotus Technology. After the closing of the merger, ECARX’s existing shareholders are expected to own approximately 89% of the pro forma combined company, assuming no redemptions by COVA’s shareholders. COVA sponsor and controlling shareholders of ECARX have agreed to a 6-month lock-up. The Chairman of the Board and CEO of COVA, Mr. Heng, will join ECARX’s Board of Directors, and COVA will appoint one independent director upon closing.
The Boards of Directors of ECARX and COVA have unanimously approved the transaction. The transaction will require the approval of the shareholders of both ECARX and COVA and is subject to other customary closing conditions, including the receipt of certain regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Proceeds from the transaction will be used to accelerate technology development and the roll-out of new products, support strategic acquisitions or investments, as well as create further pathways for global growth through its international operations office in London and a product development center in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Additional information about the proposed transaction, including a copy of the merger agreement and investor presentation, will be provided in a Current Report on Form 8-K to be filed by COVA with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and will be available on the ECARX investor relations website at ir.ecarxgroup.com and at www.sec.gov.
UBS AG Hong Kong Branch(1) and Morgan Stanley Asia Limited acted as joint financial advisors to ECARX. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom acted as international legal counsel to ECARX. Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. acted as capital markets advisor to COVA Acquisition Corp., and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP acted as its legal counsel.