Xiaomi Corp , the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor, has announced its biggest stock award to employees since its listing in Hong Kong, after expanding its headcount by 51 per cent last year in a push to diversify into electric-car manufacturing. The company awarded 174.9 million shares to 4,931 employees, the biggest of the 14 share option grants to date. The shares, valued at HK$2.6 billion (US$330.4 million) based on Wednesday’s closing price, are vested over 10 years until April 2032, it added. The Beijing-based company has now awarded 677.8 million shares to its employees since the first grant in April 2019, or 60 per cent of the maximum of 1.12 billion shares. Some 14,608 people have participated in the programme, versus 15,363 a year ago, the company said. “A strong outstanding team of talents is the solid foundation of future long-term growth,” Xiaomi said in an exchange filing on Thursday. It will continue to recruit and motivate excellent talent to strengthen its research and development and implement its business strategy, it added. Xiaomi reported a 21 per cent jump in revenue in the fourth quarter to 85.6 billion yuan from a year earlier, according to its latest filing. Earnings, however, slumped more than 70 per cent because of higher costs, taxes and one-off items including impairment to its investments. Founder and chief executive Lei Jun, credited by Forbes with US$12.2 billion of wealth, is seeking to reduce the company’s reliance on smartphones . Xiaomi is building an electric-vehicle (EV) plant outside Beijing, with the first cars due to roll out in 2024 under its US$10 billion spending commitment. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi denies job cuts as it pushes ahead with EVs, high-end phones China is the world’s biggest passenger car market, and its drive toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 has raised the importance of the EV industry, now dominated by Tesla and its Chinese challengers including Xpeng, Li Auto, Nio and BYD. “Our progress has been ahead of schedule,” Xiaomi said. “We will continue to expand R&D in core areas such as autonomous driving and smart cabins. We continue to expect mass production to officially begin in the first half of 2024.” Xiaomi boosted its group-wide headcount to 33,427 at the end of 2021, mostly in mainland China, from 22,074 a year earlier. Its R&D staff grew 40 per cent to 14,592 over the same period, according to company filings. The company awarded 266.5 million shares to participants in 2021 and 137.9 million shares in 2020. Offering employees a stake in the business is a common practice used to retain and reward key employees, who are then incentivised to achieve targets relating to profit or revenue.