Xiaomi Comes to Americas With Brazilian-Made Smartphone at $160

Xiaomi Corp. will start selling smartphones in Brazil this month, its first market for the low-priced devices outside Asia.

The Redmi 2 will sell for 499 reais ($160) online as the company’s first phone made outside China, Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi Global, said in a phone interview from Sao Paulo. Sales in Thailand, Vietnam and Russia may start within the next 12 months, he said.

Lei Jun, founder of the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, plans to sell devices including air filters, headphones and tablet computers outside China after a $1.1 billion round of investment in December gave the five-year-old company a $45 billion valuation. Tapping Foxconn Technology Group unit FIH Mobile Ltd. to assemble the Redmi 2 in Brazil portends more manufacturing outside China, Barra said.

“We do have plans to manufacture in India through our partners,” Barra said, declining to name which company it would team up with. “We probably will make an announcement in the next few months.”

Manufacturing in Brazil, which commenced this week, took more than a year to organize in conjunction with FIH Mobile, Barra said. The Redmi 2 features a 4.7-inch screen and 8 megapixel rear camera.

Xiaomi sells direct to consumers online, bypassing phone operators in most markets, to reduce costs.

Xiaomi has no timeline for when it may sell phones in the U.S., with Mexico and Colombia more likely to be its next markets in the Americas, he said. He didn’t give a timeframe for sales in those countries.

Separately, Xiaomi on Wednesday announced the appointment of Singaporean Shou Zi Chew as its chief financial officer. The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Facebook Inc. executive was most recently a partner at DST Investment Management, which invested in Xiaomi, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Didi Dache.