China's Geely acquires $9 billion stake in Daimler
25 February, 2018, 00:36
Ltd., has acquired a 9.69% stake in Daimler AG, owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand, becoming the German company's largest single shareholder. Geely is the largest privately owned automaker in China and has a tough road ahead of it as Chinese authorities look to tighten emissions regulations to heavily favor electric vehicles.
A Daimler spokesman called the stake purchase a private investment by Li. "It will be an honor to support this unique team under the leadership of Dieter Zetsche in the future", said Li Shufu, chairman and owner of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Geely Group.
Only two to three manufacturers will survive in the auto industry moving forward, said one source who is familiar with the way Li thinks.
Daimler overtook homegrown rival BMW to become the world's largest luxury auto maker by unit sales in 2016, helped by a broad refresh of its model range and powerful sales growth in China. Geely representatives weren't immediately available to comment.
His interest in Germany is the latest in a string of acquisitions by wealthy Chinese firms and individuals, including conglomerate HNA which owns an 8.8% stake in the country's biggest lender Deutsche Bank.
"Chinese companies understand that leading European firms lean heavily on the People's Republic for sales and profits", said Michael Dunne, president of Dunne Automotive, a Hong Kong-based investment advisory firm focusing on automotive markets in Asia.
Geely bought the struggling Volvo VOLVB -1.31% vehicle brand in 2010 and invested more than $3 billion in a stake in Volvo AB, the separate truck maker, late a year ago.
Worldwide motor manufacturers are seeking to strike deals in China, the world's largest vehicle market, but centred on electric cars in order to get an increased foothold in a segment set to grow rapidly in the coming years. Geely plans to start selling a compact five-seat SUV, now marketed under the Lynk & Co brand, outside China from mid-2019.
He added that Geely could give Daimler an important partner.
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