Chinese billionaire Li Shufu buys biggest single stake in Daimler

25 February, 2018, 00:36 | Author: Harriet Bell
  • A general view of the headquarters of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in Hangzhou Zhejiang province

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.

With headquarters in southeastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has bought around 9.7 percent of Daimler's stake. The company has owned Volvo Cars since 2010 and recently purchased a controlling stake in Lotus.

The size of the investment leapfrogs a 6.8% stake in the Stuttgart-based group held by Kuwait and Renault-Nissan's 3.1% holding.

Li's stake purchase makes him the top shareholder in Daimler ahead of the Kuwait Investment Authority, which owned 6.8 percent as of September 30, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Representatives at Geely couldn't immediately be reached outside business hours in Asia.

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This makes Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Daimler's largest investor, Bloomberg said. "My investment in Daimler reflects this vision", Li said. While Daimler said the move isn't a prelude to a spin-off of any of the businesses, some investors have called on the company to consider an eventual split on the back of the clearer delineation between the units.

Geely Holding has increased its expansion drive.

Geely sees potential in Daimler because it is developing high-speed internet connections for autonomous cars at a time when Mr Li believes satellite-based Internet connections could become more important for the auto industry, the source familiar with his thinking said. Since past year, the company has purchased various stakes in automakers around the globe, including Malaysian brand Proton Cars, British sports and racing vehicle manufacturer Lotus Cars, and Swedish truckmaker AB Volvo. Geely also owns Geely Auto, one of China's biggest independent automakers.

BMW is controlled by the Quandt-Klatten family, whose billionaire siblings boosted their personal holdings in the second-largest luxury carmaker this year after equally dividing their late mother's stake.

As Bloomberg News reports, the move has been weeks in the making, with Geely buying up just under 10 percent of Daimler's shares in the stock market.

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