Chinese Auto Magnate Buys $9 Billion Stake in Daimler

The Chinese businessman who owns the Geely automotive group has acquired a $9 billion stake in Daimler, the German maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks.

The investment by Li Shufu, which Daimler confirmed Friday in a regulatory filing in Germany, represents 9.69 percent of the company.

In a statement, Daimler said it was pleased to have Mr. Li as a “long-term-oriented shareholder” and described him as “ an especially knowledgeable entrepreneur with a clear vision for the future, with whom one can constructively discuss the change in the industry.”

Mr. Li, 54, is chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a private company that owns a Chinese carmaker, Geely Automobile, as well as Volvo Cars, the Swedish auto brand. Daimler has a partnership in China with a separate, state-controlled company, Beijing Auto.

Reuters reported that Mr. Li approached Daimler about acquiring a stake late last year to gain access the Germany company’s electric vehicle technology, and then purchased shares on the open market.

“Daimler has got a broad-based portfolio and footprint in China,” Daimler said, noting that Beijing Auto remained “a strong partner on site.”

The Daimler stake was purchased by an investment company headed by Mr. Li called Tenaclou3 Prospect Investment, according to the Daimler filing.

Geely could not be reached for comment.

Daimler and other automakers are scrambling to develop electric vehicles to comply with increasingly stringent emissions standards that will take effect in China and Europe in the coming years. Daimler is working on both electric cars and battery-powered trucks.

Volvo announced last year that all of its models would be hybrids or electric cars by 2019.

Britain and France have said they hope to halt sales of gasoline-powered cars by 2040. China says it would like to do the same, but has not given a target date.

Content originally published on https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/business/daimler-chinese.html by NEAL E. BOUDETTE