Banker Joins E-Car Venture -- WSJ
By Julie Steinberg
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (March 2, 2018).
One of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s top bankers in Asia is making the leap to China's surging electric-vehicle sector.
Brian Gu, JPMorgan's chairman of Asia Pacific investment banking, is leaving to join Chinese electric-car manufacturer Xiaopeng Motors, said people familiar with the matter. The 45-year-old will join as vice chairman and president and lead the Guangzhou-based startup's global strategy, fundraising and international partnerships, the people said.
Mr. Gu will retain some ties to the bank, serving on an Asia advisory council as an adviser to JPMorgan, the people said.
The company, also known as Xpeng, is backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Foxconn Technology Group, which co-led a 2.2 billion yuan ($347 million) funding round in January that included other investors.
Xpeng was co-founded in 2014 by former Alibaba executive He Xiaopeng, who is its chairman. The company is preparing to start sales of its first electric cars in the second half of this year, after showcasing an electric sport utility vehicle in January during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Xpeng also plans to raise more than $1 billion in additional funding this year, after raising $790 million so far, executives have said.
Alibaba and two other Chinese internet giants, Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc., have invested billions into electric vehicles and autonomous driving startups.
Mr. Gu, who has worked as a banker for two decades, will start at Xpeng around the end of March. A top China banker, he advised on Alibaba's $25 billion initial public offering in 2014; financial-technology giant Ant Financial Services Group's $4.5 billion private fundraising in 2016; and Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi Corp.'s $1 billion syndicated loan financing in 2014.
He is joining Xpeng at a time of growth for the company and the industry. Sales of electric passenger cars in China rose 72% to 578,000 last year, four times the number sold in the U.S. Chinese manufacturers have been supported by government subsidies and consumers are incentivized to buy electric vehicles, which produce less pollution.
Mr. Gu, who joined JPMorgan in Hong Kong in 2004, has also served as the bank's co-head of Asia Pacific mergers and acquisitions and co-head of the technology, media and telecommunications group, among other positions. He was also co-head of China investment banking.
Before becoming a banker, Mr. Gu was a senior research scientist at the University of Washington Medical School, from which he holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry.
Liza Lin contributed to this article.
Write to Julie Steinberg at email@example.com
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March 02, 2018 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.