Geely acquires 10-percent stake in Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler

Geely Holdings speaks at the China-UK business forum in Shanghai China

Geely Group, a company owned by Li Shufu and managed by Zheijang Geely Holding Group, has acquired a 9.7 percent stake in Daimler AG, through open market purchases of shares.

His interest in Germany is the latest in a string of acquisitions by wealthy Chinese firms and individuals, including conglomerate HNA Group Co (海航集團), which owns an 8.8 percent stake in the nation's biggest lender Deutsche Bank AG.

Geely could not be reached for comment.

Daimler overtook homegrown rival BMW to become the world's largest luxury vehicle maker by unit sales in 2016, helped by a broad refresh of its model range and powerful sales growth in China.

Daimler now produces Mercedes-Benz cars and vans, Daimler trucks and busses, and also operates a financial services business. The share reportedly has a market value of roughly 9 billion dollars.

The rumour mill has been working overtime since Daimler refused to sell a chunk of its stock at a discount to Geely Chairman Li Shufu past year, suggesting he might instead buy the stock on the market if he was so keen. The company made regulatory disclosures after the close of markets on 23 February 2018.

The German economy ministry said in a statement emailed to Reuters: "There are legal regulations that have to be adhered to in takeovers. 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.

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The deal, which is yet to be approved by Chinese regulators, has boosted Geely's existing overseas investment portfolio.

The source said Daimler and Geely had not held concrete talks about how to structure a potential joint venture, adding: "You know we have to become a stakeholder in order to engage".

In early February, Geely began courting Germany's automotive establishment in a carefully timed public relations campaign.

With Li's backing, Volvo recently outlined plans to create a brand of upscale electric cars, called Polestar, that is meant to compete with Tesla.

"The competitors which technologically challenge the global auto industry in the 21st century are not part of the automotive industry today", Li said in the statement.

Forster explained that in the areas of electromobility and autonomous driving there should be more cooperation.

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