Electric cars

JPMorgan’s Asia top banker Gu joins electric car firm Xpeng

Gu brings over 20 years of investment banking experience to Guangzhou start-up as it readies its global expansion and fundraising drive

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2018, 10:41pm

Brian Gu, JPMorgan’s veteran investment banker and chairman of its Asia-Pacific investment banking operation, is joining Chinese electric car start-up Xiaopeng, to lead its global expansion drive.

As vice-chairman and president of Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng, also called Xpeng, Gu will directly report to He Xiaopeng, chairman of Xpeng Motors.

Xpeng is one of the few dozen Chinese electric car start-ups that have emerged in recent years after the government started issuing special manufacturing permits to companies outside traditional auto industry players.

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Gu brings to Xpeng two decades of experience advising global multinational companies, as well as China’s tech companies and entrepreneurs in mergers and acquisitions and other financing activities.

In his 14 years at JPMorgan, Gu led his team in arranging various sizeable fundraising deals for Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba Group’s record-setting US$25 billion US listing in 2014.

It was also the lead manager for China online travel company Ctrip’s raising of close to US$3 billion through a series of convertible bonds issued between 2013-16.

“Brian has been a terrific banker and partner to many of us and has helped JPMorgan strengthen our investment banking platform and become a leading adviser to new-economy companies,” said Nicolas Aguzin, its Asia-Pacific chief executive in an internal memo seen by South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Gu said he will remain an adviser to a JPMorgan’s internal council.

“Joining XPeng Motors is a great opportunity to transform China’s mobility sector and further cement the company’s leading position in the electric vehicle industry,” he said.

Before joining JPMorgan, Gu worked in the global M&A and global health care practice of Lehman Brothers in New York from 1998 and 2004.

Before working on Wall Street, he was a senior research scientist at the University of Washington Medical School.

Gu, who has a PhD in biochemistry, has been an active supporter of the Hong Kong stock exchange’s move in attracting more Chinese biotech firms to list on the Hong Kong bourse.

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In January he was part of the bank’s global management team that attended its annual global health care conference held in San Francisco, a conference which attracted over 10,000 and was also attended by a group of up-and-coming Chinese biotech companies.

The exchange has launched a consultation to seek market views on its proposal to allow biotech companies without revenue to list in Hong Kong.

He Xiaopeng said in a press statement announcing the move, that “Gu’s deep experience in technology, finance and global strategy make him a perfect fit to help the Company take the next step in its growth”.

Xpeng, in which Alibaba is believed to own a 10-per cent stake, is accelerating its growth this year with the announcement of its latest electric car model, the G3, in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The flagship model is designed to appeal to China’s new generation of young consumers that embrace an attitude of both exploration and innovation.

Alibaba owns the SCMP.