Tesla engages Chinese banks to fund its Shanghai factory


SHANGHAI • Elon Musk’s shock US$82 billion (RM333.74 billion) offer to buy out the loss-making Tesla Inc has the market wondering just how he will find the cash. But when it comes to his grand plans to build electric cars in China, he already has the answer: The nation’s state-owned banks.

With a factory just outside of Shanghai key to Musk’s vision of making inroads in the world’s biggest electric-vehicle (EV) market and finally making Tesla profitable, the company has enlisted the city’s government as an ally.

Shanghai authorities are helping Tesla obtain loans from some of the biggest Chinese banks, according to people familiar with the matter. At least four lenders have begun an appraisal process on the loans, which will be used to fund the building of a factory that’s said to cost US$5 billion to bring to full capacity. Some banks have signed confidentiality agreements with the Shanghai government and Tesla, and are in advanced negotiations, the people said.

The banks have yet to decide on the size of the loans and interest rates, said the people. Tesla has said it plans to use mostly local debt to fund the Shanghai factory, which Bloomberg News previously reported would require investment of US$5 billion.

Local governments in China have been chasing and competing with each other to entice EV manufacturing projects as the nation has a goal to lead the world in EVs.