[SHANGHAI] A Chinese auto firm said Friday it is buying two foreign companies and their self-driving technologies for more than US$1 billion, as the world's second-largest economy seeks to boost its foothold in the autonomous car market.
Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp said it has signed an agreement to buy US-based Key Safety Systems (KSS) Holdings Inc for US$920 million, according to a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange, where it is listed.
Ningbo, which provides driver control systems to auto giants such as General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, said it also plans to buy the car navigation business of Germany's TechniSat Digital GmbH for US$204.6 million, the statement added.
The announcement comes as China fast-tracks plans to put more self-driving cars on its roads and improve car safety technology in the country, the world's largest auto market.
KSS supplies air bags for normal cars and is developing autonomous car-safety systems, including collision avoidance technology.
TechniSat provides navigation systems and is developing technology for connected cars, which can help vehicles maintain safe distances and avoid accidents.
The Chinese firm said the deals will help it keep "pushing the reform of driving behaviour" and become a leading supplier in self-driving and smart-car technology.
Based in China's eastern city of Ningbo, Joyson has more than 7,000 employees and operates in the United States, Germany and Mexico, as well as China. Its revenue last year was 808 million yuan (S$168.4 million).
The deals are still pending regulatory approval.
Joyson shares were up 0.61 per cent in Shanghai after the noon break.
The deal is the latest in a series of foreign purchases by Chinese companies, as Beijing urges firms to make overseas acquisitions to boost technological know-how and expand markets.