BMW, China's Great Wall in possible EV joint venture

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Great Wall shares have lagged behind rivals this year, with shares of Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, Brilliance China and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co traded in Hong Kong all up more than 100% in 2017 to top a Bloomberg global gauge of automakers.

Great Wall Motor Company clarified Friday it has not entered into any joint venture agreement with Germany's BMW in China.

Great Wall's shares had surged 14 percent on Wednesday and were later suspended after Reuters reported that it was discussing a joint venture with the German premium manufacturer, focused on electric vehicles. BMW said it planned to grow the Mini brand in China with a new local partner, without naming Great Wall.

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BMW's China sales grew 11.3 percent past year. (GWLLY) to outsource manufacturing of its iconic Mini cars.

Bernstein analysts said they believed that any new venture of BMW and Great Wall would have to sell exclusively electric vehicles (EVs), given China's moratorium on approvals for new gasoline auto businesses.

If the JV project moves ahead, it will be BMW's second partnership operation in China.

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BMW has not yet confirmed if the plant will churn out BMW-only products or if the agreement involves adding a second production facility for the upcoming electric Mini, which is now only slated for production at the brand's Oxford plant in the UK.

BMW said that this approach did not put into question its commitment to Mini factories in the U.K. The company also said that it wants to expand its business with its existing joint-venture partner BMW Brilliance Automotive (BCAUY) in China.

A Great Wall official declined to comment.

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