China’s Qihoo 360 mulls leading EV brand Nezha’s Series D round: Report

Nezha's electric vehicle (EV) model Eureka 03. Visuals from Nezha's official website

Chinese Internet security firm Qihoo 360 is mulling an investment into Nezha’s Series D round as the electric vehicle (EV) brand, owned by the country’s lesser-known automaker Hozon Auto, is targeting to float shares on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR Market this year.

Beijing-based Qihoo 360 offered a term sheet to Nezha, under which it proposed to back the firm’s Series D round as a lead investor, local media outlet The 21st Century Business Herald reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Financial details of the potential investment were not disclosed, but Qihoo 360 would become Nezha’s third-biggest shareholder if the transaction were to happen, according to the reporting citing a source. The report added that the duo has been in active discussions regarding the investment for about two months.

Qihoo 360 and Nezha did not immediately respond to DealStreetAsia’s email requests for comments.

Nezha closed 2 billion yuan in the first tranche of its Series C round led by Chinese equity investment firm HD Capital in December 2020. The first tranche also included capital commitments from a group of large-scale investment institutions, said the firm, which expected the total size of the Series C round to “far exceed” its initial target of 3 billion yuan.

The firm announced last July its plans of launching an IPO on the STAR Market in 2021. The IPO plan signalled its official entry into a race with other unlisted Chinese EV players, such as WM Motor and ENOVATE, to become the first EV fundraiser on China’s tech board to capture a piece of the country’s tech IPO boom.

Zhou Hongyi, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Qihoo 360, said at the firm’s performance briefing on Monday that Qihoo 360 is actively exploring opportunities in the intelligent vehicle safety market and looking into the potential of increasing investment in the area.

Qihoo 360 posted annual revenue of 11.6 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) in 2020, down about 9.6% from one year earlier. Its net profit attributable to shareholders stood at over 2.9 billion yuan ($447.2 million), down 51.3% year-on-year, according to its latest financial results.

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.