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Sumitomo buys Nordic parking lot operator Q-Park from KKR

[STOCKHOLM] Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp has agreed to buy Q-Park Nordics, the largest Nordic parking lot operator, from US investment fund KKR, hoping to benefit from an acceleration towards electric vehicles.

Sumitomo announced the agreement on Tuesday but gave no financial details. A source familiar with the deal said it was worth about 400 million euros (S$610 million). KKR declined to comment.

Global automakers are planning a US$300 billion surge in spending on electric vehicle (EV) and mobility technology over the next five to 10 years, accelerating the industry's transition from fossil fuels.

Industry revenues are expected to rise to US$6.7 trillion 2030, according to consultant McKinsey, and hoping to take home a piece of the pie, several players from outside the auto sector have also rushed to fund everything from driverless tech to EV infrastructure.

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Sumitomo Corp too has bulked up in this space, launching car share service Aimo in Stockholm last year and making investments in a Japanese EV charging infrastructure project and a North American peer-to-peer car sharing operator.

Q-Park Nordics, which operates about 370,000 parking lots, has a 20 per cent market share of parking facilities in Sweden, Finland and Norway, which is the lead adopter of electric vehicles in Europe.

The group has been boosting its offering by adding EV charging equipment and cashless app payment options and introducing services such as car maintenance, positioning itself to be a choice location for car sharing operators and private electric carS.

Asian investors have deep exposure to the Swedish auto industry already. China's Geely owns Volvo Cars and is the largest investor in truckmaker AB Volvo, while another Chinese investor owns the core assets and IP rights of collapsed carmaker Saab Automobile.

In January, Evergrande Health became a majority investor in Swedish super car brand Koenigsegg.

Sumitomo's investment comes as Japanese trading houses are scouting for assets to deploy their nearly US$50 billion collective war chest after enjoying their best profit outlook in six years.

The deal allows KKR to retain Q-Park operations outside the Nordic region. The buyout firm bought the entire Q-Park group in 2017 for about 2.9 billion euros enterprise value. The deal valued the asset at 15 times its 2016 core earnings.

[REUTERS]