The World's Richest Man Is Helping Lotus Go Public

Photo:  Lotus
Photo: Lotus

Elon Musk is no longer the world’s richest man, according to Forbes. Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH — the conglomerate behind luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hennessy, Bulgari, and lots of other brands you see at overpriced airport boutiques — is. Bloomberg said Tuesday that a firm tied to LVMH will be merging with Lotus to take the carmaker public, presumably emboldened by Porsche going public in September. This might, on paper, pit the world’s two richest people against each other in a battle for the EV future of the world, since Lotus is all-in on EVs now, but that seems more like a fun thought exercise than reality.

That’s in part because Tesla and Geely-owned Lotus are trying to do different things. Tesla is trying to scale up to selling millions and millions of EVs, while Lotus is trying to scale up to merely selling thousands of cars. Further, Elon Musk is a bit more involved with his car company (despite the ongoing misadventure with Twitter) than Arnault would be. Bloomberg describes the firm Lotus is merging with, L Catterton Asia Acquisition Corp, as, “the private equity operations of Arnault’s luxury-goods powerhouse LVMH [that] combined with the US investment firm Catterton in 2016,” which makes it sound like something that the world’s richest man probably forgot existed.

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At any rate, L Catterton Asia Acquisition Corp is actually only merging with Lotus Tech, which is the EV part of Group Lotus. Lotus Tech is making the Eletre, the SUV you see above, which it calls “the world’s first electric hyper-SUV.” Reuters also says that entities that already own Lotus Tech, which is mostly Geely and a few other shareholders, will keep their stakes in Lotus Tech, and that stake will amount to 89.7 percent of the company after the merger with L Catterton Asia Acquisition Corp.

Which makes me think that this is mostly a cash grab. Though, if you’ve ever dreamed of owning stock in Lotus, this could be your big chance. Reuters says that the combined company will list on the Nasdaq exchange, with the ticker symbol “LOT.” Someday, somebody might even get around to mentioning it to the world’s richest man.

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