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RPT-UPDATE 2-China's Geely Automobile first-half profit climbs 4% on recovery in sales

(Repeats for wider distribution)

BEIJING, Aug 18 (Reuters) - China’s Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd said on Wednesday its first-half net profit grew 4%, as sales in the world’s biggest auto market recover from COVID-19 pandemic lows.

Hangzhou-based Geely posted a January-June profit of 2.38 billion yuan ($367.20 million) versus 2.3 billion yuan in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue rose 22% to 45 billion yuan with vehicle sales climbing 19% to 630,237 cars. The company expects to sell 1.53 million cars this year.

Haitong International analyst Shi Ji said that excluding a jump in share-based payments which weighed on net profit, the results were better than expected having benefited from cost-cutting.

Geely Automobile is developing a new EV brand called “Zeekr” with its parent group, which has announced a flurry of tie-ups with tech companies including Baidu as it seeks to become a leading EV contract manufacturer and engineering service provider.

It said it would seek external funding for the newly launched electric Zeekr brand and would introduce more electric models in its overall lineup.

In June, Geely said it would scrap plans to list new shares on the mainland’s Nasdaq-like STAR Market after it abandoned a merger plan with sister company Volvo Cars in February.

$1 = 6.4814 Chinese yuan Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Edwina Gibbs

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