Segway rolls into future with new Chinese owner

Segway bought by Chinese rival personal scooter maker

Segway Inc., the struggling U.S. maker of self-balancing, two-wheeled electric scooters, has been bought by Chinese rival Ninebot Inc., the companies said Wednesday.

After the deal is completed, Bedford, N.H.-based Segway will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ninebot, which is headquartered in Beijing. Both companies will continue to operate under their existing brand names, according to a joint statement.

The price of the deal was not disclosed, but on its website, Ninebot said investors gave the company $80 million for the transaction.

"We are confident that this combination will help promote the development of short-distance transportation as well as the growth in the mobile robotics platform industry," said Lufeng Gao, founder and chief executive of Ninebot.

Just last year, the two companies were at odds. Segway filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in September, alleging patent and copyright infringement against Ninebot and several other companies.

In November, the trade commission said it would open an investigation into whether those companies' products should be blocked from the U.S. market.

But the dispute seems to be resolved, as Segway President Rod Keller said in a statement that the two companies "will be able to cooperate closely with each other on technology and marketing, strengthening their research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales capabilities."

Since its debut in 2001, Segway has struggled to assert itself in the personal transportation market, instead developing a reputation for goofiness that was emphasized in the 2009 movie "Paul Blart: Mall Cop."

Segway has gone through a number of hands over the years. In 2009, British businessman Jimi Heselden bought the company, only to accidentally ride a Segway over a cliff to his death a year later.

In 2013, Summit Strategic Investments LLC, an investment consulting firm, bought Segway for an undisclosed amount.

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