Samsung SDI to invest in ECOPRO BM

Feb 07, 2020

Samsung SDI and ECOPRO BM are looking to establish a strategic partnership. It is heard that Samsung SDI is planning to invest in ECOPRO BM in order to secure stable supply of materials due to a rapid increase in demands within the electric vehicle battery market. Samsung SDI and ECOPRO BM are considering establishing a joint venture or co-participating in investments for construction of additional facilities. ECOPRO BM is a company that specializes in cathode material that is one of key materials of a battery.
According to the industry, Samsung SDI has set a plan to invest in ECOPRO BM. Although it is still deciding on specifics such as the exact amount of investment, it is understood that the framework for an agreement is in place.
It is heard that their partnership will be based on ECOPRO BM constructing production lines to produce cathode materials after receiving financial supports from Samsung SDI and supplying cathode materials to Samsung SDI. There is also a possibility that they will establish a joint venture. It is heard that they are looking to secure a production capacity of 50,000 tons of cathode materials per year.
ECOPRO BM is an ally of Samsung SDI and it is currently supplying cathode materials to Samsung SDI already. However, it is unusual to see Samsung SDI deciding to invest in ECOPRO BM. This indicates that Samsung SDI is attempting to establish an even closer relationship than the relationship that they have now. As demands for electric vehicle batteries are increasing at a rapid rate, Samsung SDI is looking to participate in extension of facilities in order to obtain stable supply of cathode materials.

ECOPRO BM’s headquarters <ECOPRO BM’s headquarters>

Cathode materials is one of four key materials (anode material, electrolyte, separator film) of a battery and it affects a battery’s generating capacity. Raw materials such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese are usually used for cathode material. However, ECOPRO BM produces high-nickel cathode material that has a high percentage of nickel. It is heard that high-nickel cathode material is good for increasing electric vehicle’s mileage.
As a result, there is an increase in number of battery manufacturers that are looking to have a partnership with ECOPRO BM. ECOPRO BM recently signed a long-term partnership with SK Innovation and it is set to supply cathode materials that are worth $2.32 billion (2.7413 trillion KRW) to SK Innovation until the end of December of 2023. It is planning to supply high-performance cathode materials with 80% nickel to SK Innovation.
Because there is only a handful number of cathode material manufacturers globally, battery manufacturers are actively looking to partner up with cathode material manufacturers. POSCO Chemical, ECOPRO BM, and L&F are the major South Korean cathode material manufacturers. Sumitomo and Nichia are the major Japanese cathode material manufacturers while Shanshan is the major Chinese cathode material manufacturer.
“Battery manufacturers and battery material manufacturers are starting to form partnerships in order for battery manufacturers to supply orders of electric vehicle batteries that they have obtained.” said Kim Byung-joo of who is the CEO of a market research company called EV-Volumes for South Korea and Japan. “Because there can be a financial burden for battery manufacturers to directly invest in battery material manufacturers, some of them are looking to invest in extension of facilities of battery material manufacturers.”
When asked about a potential partnership between Samsung SDI and ECOPRO BM, representatives for these companies stated that nothing has been decided concretely.
Staff Reporter Yun, Geonil | benyun@etnews.com

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