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HONG KONG: Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Zhejiang Leapmotor Technology is hoping to raise more than $1 billion with an initial public offering in what would be the largest debut so far this year for Hong Kong.

The Hangzhou-headquartered company is offering around 131 million shares priced at HK$48-HK$62 ($6.10-$7.90), according to a prospectus filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday.

The listing will be a test for investor appetite in China’s EV sector, which has shown huge growth in recent years.

It has also so far avoided the kind of sudden scrutiny from mainland regulators that have bedevilled other tech sectors and hobbled profits in recent years.

China’s electric car market is particularly competitive, with manufacturers jostling to take advantage of an industry boosted in recent months by generous purchase subsidies from local governments.

The Chinese government introduced a string of measures, including a tax break extension, in July to stimulate sales of electric cars against the backdrop of an economic slowdown.

The measures are supposed to support the economy at a time when sporadic Covid-19 lockdowns around the country have dampened consumer enthusiasm and business confidence.

Founded in 2015, Leapmotor focuses on the mid to high-end EV market with a price range of 150,000 to 300,000 yuan ($21,400-$42,800).

Chinese manufacturers are also looking to build an overseas presence and raise capital to fund that expansion.

Mercedes set to lead India’s luxury EV market as Tesla stays out

Hong Kong is a popular listing destination given its proximity to China at a time when Washington and Beijing have clashed over the audit transparency of Chinese companies, some of which have delisted in the United States.

Chinese EV makers XPeng and Nio both forged secondary Hong Kong listings recently.

China’s EV market is also huge, covering everything from luxury vehicles to more affordable models.

Manufacturer Wuling last year sold 400,000 Mini EV vehicles, a mass market super compact with a price tag of $4,000, compared with Renault selling 77,000 Zoe cars, the best-selling European electric car.

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