Eric Li's Xingji Shidai Technology has taken sole control of Meizu, which will continue to operate as a separate brand.

Geely chairman's venture completes acquisition of 79% stake in smartphone maker Meizu-CnEVPost

(Image credit: Hubei Xingji Shidai Technology)

Hubei Xingji Shidai Technology, the premium mobile devices founded by Eric Li, founder and chairman of carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, has completed the acquisition of a majority stake in local smartphone maker Meizu Technology after regulatory filings revealed the plan last month.

Xingji has acquired a 79.09 percent controlling stake in Meizu and gained sole control of the company, the companies announced at a strategic signing ceremony on July 4 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in East China.

Meizu will continue to operate as an independent brand and founder Huang Zhang will continue to serve as a strategic advisor for the company's products, according to a press release.

Xingji and Meizu will cover different consumer electronics segments, such as high-end smartphones, XR technology products, and wearable smart terminal products, while maintaining brand independence.

Xingji, founded by Li in September 2021 and headquartered in Wuhan, Hubei province in central China, aims to make high-end smartphones to serve the global market, according to a press release it issued last year.

"Mobile phones and devices have quickly evolved into mobile terminals and application platforms which not only allow users to enjoy the fruits of innovation in the quickest manner possible, they also act as a pathway to greater automotive applications," Li said at the company's launch last year.

As of today, Li holds a 61.14 percent stake in Xinji, according to the latest information from data provider Tianyancha.

Meizu, one of China's first smartphone makers, was founded in 2003, initially producing and selling only consumer electronics such as MP3s, and became one of the best-known handset makers with the advent of the smartphone era.

Geely chairman's venture completes acquisition of 79% stake in smartphone maker Meizu-CnEVPost

But in the last two years, annual shipments of Meizu phones have fallen to about 1 million units, well below the peak of more than 10 million or more units shipped.

Xingji plans to acquire a 79.09 percent stake in Meizu, according to an operator concentration case announced by China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) on June 13.

In 2021, Meizu's share of the Chinese smartphone market is below 5 percent, according to the document released by the SAMR.

Xingji and Meizu will work together to define a new track and deeply integrate with the broad mobility technology ecosystem, the company's press release said today.

It is worth noting that Geely is not the first automaker interested in entering the cell phone manufacturing space.

There have been rumors of NIO entering the smartphone manufacturing industry since late February. William Li, the company's founder, chairman and CEO, said during an appearance on a talk show in late March that NIO was still in the research phase for making phones, according to a report by news portal Sina at the time.

NIO's customers want to see a phone that connects better with cars, which prompted the company to study the industry, Li said.

In addition to Xinji and NIO, SAIC Group appears to have similar plans.

SAIC is planning a deeper integration of vehicle systems with cell phone manufacturers and plans to release information about it in late June and early July, the largest Chinese car company said on June 24, according to a report in local media Caijing.

"The attributes of cars as mobile terminals in the smart electric era overlap significantly with those of phones," said Shen Haoming, deputy general manager of SAIC's technology management department.

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