Chinese content and devices firm LeEco, facing funding problems after rapid growth, encountered difficulties closing a $2 billion deal to acquire US-based TV manufacturer Vizio due to new restrictions on capital transfers out of China.
According to Chinese media reports, the once fast-rising company may have to abandon the deal to buy the largest maker of TVs in the US because of currency controls, but other sources point to LeEco’s funding crunch as the main reason.
A LeEco representative told Caixin the deal is pending regulatory approval. The magazine said LeEco could borrow to fund the deal, which the company said last month was still a “priority”.
The Chinese technology company announced plans to acquire Vizio in July 2016 to give it a footprint in North America from which to sell smart TVs. The deal was previously expected to close in Q4 2016.
In December, the once fast-rising company said it planned to restructure as it shifted its strategy away from rapid expansion. In November founder and CEO Jia Yueting acknowledged the company had been expanding “too fast” and its capital and resources were not keeping pace, following an aggressive move into smartphones, smart TVs and electric cars.
LeEco announced in January it will sell off minority stakes in three of its businesses to real-estate developer Sunac China Holdings to raise CNY15.04 billion ($2.2 billion). Other Chinese investors will contribute an additional CNY1.8 billion, raising LeEco’s funding to CNY16.8 billion.
The company agreed to sell an 8.6 per cent interest in Leshi Internet Information and Technology, its Shenzhen-listed video streaming business, to Sunac for CNY6.04 billion. Sunac will also acquire a 33.5 per cent stake in LeEco’s smart TV subsidiary Leshi Zhixin Electronic Technology for CNY7.95 billion, and a 15 per cent stake in film production and distribution business Le Vision Pictures for CNY1.05 billion.