A recent report that Tesla is aiming to acquire a stake in LG’s soon-to-be-separate battery business sent shares in the Korean electronics giant soaring. However, it appears to be too early to tell if and how such an acquisition will take place.
LG Chem announced in mid-September that it plans to spin off its battery business into a new company tentatively named LG Energy Solutions. LG Chem has been making automotive batteries for a decade, and is already a supplier to Tesla and GM, among others. However, it never made an annual profit on them until recently. Now, with growing demand from European carmakers, and the prospect of more sales of cylindrical cells to Tesla, the time seems right to create a separate battery business. The separation is expected to occur by the end of this year.
Now The Korea Times reports that Tesla is interested in acquiring a stake in the new company. “Tesla is looking to acquire a stake in LG Energy Solution, soon to be separated by LG Chem, to procure a stable supply of batteries,” unnamed “bank sector sources” told The Korea Times.
However, it doesn’t sound like a done deal. Another anonymous source told the Times, “It’s quite early to tell if Tesla has an actual plan to acquire a stake in LG Energy Solution. But given Tesla’s growing attempts at cost cuts and moves in producing round batteries, it does make sense that Tesla would explore an opportunity to buy a stake in LG Energy Solution.”
At the recent Battery Day presentation, Tesla announced plans to produce its own battery cells, but also said it would continue to buy cells from suppliers.
Electrek’s Fred Lambert, noting that this would apparently be the first time Tesla has acquired a minority stake in a company, and that even a 10% stake in LG’s battery business would represent a large amount of capital, recommended a serving of salt with the acquisition report.
Sources: Reuters, The Korea Times, Electrek