(Bloomberg) — Li Shufu, founder and chairman of automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., is expanding his manufacturing empire to include smartphones and consumer electronics by acquiring a majority stake in Android device maker Meizu Technology Co. .
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Founded nearly 20 years ago, Meizu was one of the pioneers of the Chinese group of phone makers that rapidly expanded its market by closely mimicking the look and feel of Apple Inc. Hubei Xingji’s iPhone. Shidai Technology Co., a mobile device company Li founded in 2021, has signed an agreement to acquire 79.09 percent of Meizu, according to a company statement released by Xingji Technology.
Meizu will continue to operate as an independent brand, while Xingji is developing “a portfolio of next-generation smartphones, mobile devices and wearable smart devices that will use XR technologies.” Extended Reality (XR) technology is a generic umbrella term for augmented and virtual reality applications, services and devices.
Under the agreement, the two companies will “collaborate to integrate mobile technologies” and provide users with “bundled cross-platform services,” the statement said.
The main entity under Li’s empire, Geely Automobile, is accelerating its transition to a more electrified, smart and premium product portfolio to capitalize on growing demand from Chinese car buyers. It launched a dedicated electric car brand, Zeekr, in 2021, combining the characteristics of a technology company with Geely’s expertise in car manufacturing, Geely Chairman An Conghui said in an interview with Bloomberg Television last year.
Zeekr aims to steal an advantage over tech giants like Apple and Xiaomi Corp., which seem poised to start treating cars as constantly improving hardware with software upgrades, An added. The acquisition of Meizu seems bring Li’s competition with leaders in the smartphone space into their market before they enter his.
“The growing integration of consumer electronics into our daily lives is driving the demand for interoperability across multiple platforms,” Li said. “Future development will be driven by integrated relationships across multiple devices and platforms that deliver an immersive experience to end users.”
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