China’s Geely has bought almost ten percent in Daimler shares, thus becoming the company’s largest shareholder. Geely founder Li Shufu said in a statement he is “particularly pleased to accompany Daimler on its way to becoming the world’s leading electro-mobility provider.”
The Chinese company, which also owns Volvo, had acquired a 9.7 percent stake of Daimler through open market purchases of shares and made regulatory disclosures soon after the close of markets. At current market value, the purchase must have cost them 9 billion dollars.
Rumours had spoken of Geely’s attempts to buy into Daimler before. A previous offer over 5 percent had been turned down by Daimler though, so that the Chinese now turned to the open market instead.
In a statement, Geely pointed to a “long-term commitment” but also said that there is no intention to buy more shares “for the time being.” Geely founder Li Shufu said he will fully abide by the company charter and governance structure of Daimler AG and respect its values and culture.
The founder added: “The competitors which technologically challenge the global car industry in the 21st century are not part of the automotive industry today. But with challenges come opportunities. No current car industry player will be able to win this battle against the invaders from outside independently. In order to succeed and seize the technology highland, one has to have friends, partners, and alliances and adapt a new way of thinking in terms of sharing and united strength. And we have to act now. My investment in Daimler reflects this strategic vision.”
This vision also includes the idea of building batteries, maybe together with Daimler. Geely had recently signed a contract for the construction of a 5 billion dollar factory in Chinese Wuhan and had expressed its wish for a technology cooperation with the Germans (we reported). While Daimler has shown little interest so far and just announced to concentrate its battery competence at Untertürkheim, this new shareholder may mix up things a bit. Sources close to the matter told Reuters that Geely officials are expected to arrive in Stuttgart early next week.