Li Shifu, the chairman and main shareholder of Chinese automaker Geely, has amassed close to a 10% stake in Daimler, the world’s largest luxury car producer.
The acquired shares are worth around USD 9bn and make Li the largest single investor, surpassing Kuwait Investment Authority, which holds 6.8%. The Chinese tycoon and Geely have no plans to acquire further shares in Daimler in the immediate future, and Li would not seek a board seat at the German company.
Geely reportedly plans to leverage its access to Daimler’s electric vehicle and self-driving car technologies to combat air pollution and tightening Chinese emissions laws, as well as to better compete with US rivals Tesla, Google and Uber, which are developing self-driving auto technologies of their own. Establishing a cooperation between Geely and Daimler, however, may prove difficult, as the German carmaker already has standing partnerships with Geely’s domestic rivals BAIC Motor and BYD.
The deal has also raised eyebrows with the German authorities, as Li was apparently able to circumvent the 3% and 5% thresholds for disclosing ownership in local publicly traded companies. Geely is no stranger to investments in the European automotive sector. The Chinese firm owns Swedish automaker Volvo Cars and is the single largest shareholder in truck maker Volvo AB. Furthermore, it holds the controlling stake in British sports cars maker Lotus, and also owns London EV Company, the maker of London’s signature black cabs.
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