Exclusive: China's LeEco, Tesla wannabe, to sell Silicon Valley site amid cash crunch - sources

Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:41am EDT
 
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By Sijia Jiang

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco is looking to sell a 49-acre U.S. Silicon Valley property less than a year after buying it from Yahoo Inc, sources said, in what is the latest effort by the firm to ride out a cash crunch.

LeEco, one of China's most ambitious companies that grew from a Netflix-like video website to a business empire spanning consumer electronics to cars within 13 years, is struggling to support its goals that include beating Elon Musk's Tesla Motors in premium electric vehicle making.

LeEco's billionaire founder and CEO Jia Yueting admitted in a letter to staff in November that the firm was facing a "big company disease" and battling a cash crunch after expanding at an unprecedented rate.

But less than a month prior to the letter, amid much fanfare at LeEco's official U.S. launch at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, Jia had outlined plans to build its North America headquarters at the Silicon Valley site.

"This property will be an EcoCity that houses 12,000 employees," Jia said at the time.

Now cash-strapped and struggling to repay a pile of debts to suppliers and business partners, LeEco plans to sell the U.S. site to little-known Chinese developer Genzon Group for $260 million, $10 million more than what the firm paid for it in June, said a source with direct knowledge of the deal who did not want to be named due to rules on talking to media.

Genzon confirmed it was in talks to buy the site, but declined to comment on the deal size or whether it was teaming up with any partners as the discussions were still ongoing.

Genzon also declined to elaborate on why it was interested in the property, but according to its website, the Shenzhen-based firm founded in 2003 is erecting a 140,000-square meter office building in Silicon Valley in a project called Burlingame Point - its first in the United States.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO: LeEco's new Le Pro3 phone is on display during a press event in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 19, 2016.  RETUERS/Beck Diefenbach/File Photo