China's leading electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) last week said it plans to invest up to CNY19.1bn (US$2.75bn) in new businesses and acquisitions to help it keep up with rising global competition.

The Shenzhen-listed company said it aims to invest in both upstream and downstream companies globally, after it recently emerged that it has fallen behind South Korea's LG Chem as the world's largest manufacturer of EV batteries.

South Korea's SNE Research said CATL enjoyed a 28% share of the global EV battery market last year after it delivered 40.25 gigawatt-hours of automotive lithium-ion batteries. Most of its sales were generated in China, the world's largest EV market, where it enjoys a 50% market share.But the company's research also revealed that LG Chem overtook CATL in the first half of 2020 in terms of installed capacity.

CATL founder and chairman Zeng Yuqun last week pointed out that new energy vehicle sales in Europe surged by 52%in the first half of 2020, but fell by 44% in China.

CATL said it will focus mostly on searching for acquisition targets outside China, with as much as US$2.5bn of the acquisition budget could be allocated on overseas expansion as part of its stated "long-term strategic development". But it will also consider domestic targets when opportunities arise.

CATL already has equity investments in 45 companies, eleven of which are wholly-owned. Most are in the upstream battery materials and mobility industry sectors.

Mr Zeng said in the long term CATL expects its market share in China to fall to around 40%, but expects its overseas share to rise to 20%.