Geely buys Daimler stake in China's biggest overseas auto deal

Geely chairman builds $9 bn stake in Germany’s Daimler

Documents released by Daimler on Friday show that Geely Chairman Li Shufu has built up a 9.69 percent stake in the German maker.

Li Shufu acquired the 9.7 per cent holding through Geely Group, a company owned by the billionaire and managed by his carmaking group, according to a company statement today.

The size of the investment leapfrogs a 6.8% stake in the Stuttgart-based group held by Kuwait and Renault-Nissan's 3.1% holding.

The share purchase makes Li Shufu now the single largest shareholder of Daimler AG and points to a long-term commitment.

The stake purchase follows an initial approach last November, when Li sought to buy a Daimler stake as a way to access Mercedes-Benz technology for electric cars and trucks, including battery technology, to help Geely comply with a Chinese crackdown on pollution.

Geely first tapped into the European market with a buyout of Sweden's Volvo Cars in 2010.

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But in a speech to the CAR Institute automotive conference in Bochum, Germany earlier this month, Li skirted around the speculation, saying simply that Europe had "a very important role for the development of automotive brands under our leadership".

Geely said on Saturday there were no plans "for the time being" to raise the stake further.

The group also took a 49 per cent stake in troubled Malaysian carmaker Proton in 2017, as well as a controlling interest in the British sports auto marque Lotus. It sold more than 1 million vehicles past year.

Not only it is known as owner of Swedish automaker Volvo Cars, at the end of 2017, the company also became known as the largest shareholder of the commercial vehicle manufacturer Volvo Trucks. Volkswagen AG is owned by the Porsche-Piech billionaire clan with the government of Qatar counting as a major stakeholder, and BMW is owned by the wealthy billionaire Quandt-Klatten family.

Geely has not commented publicly on the objective of its investment, but is thought to be interested in Daimler's battery technology.

Daimler is making Mercedes-Benz cars for the Chinese market locally via a joint venture with partner BAIC motors.

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