Li Shufu-owned Geely Group becomes largest shareholder in Daimler AG

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China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is now the top shareholder in German automaker Daimler with a 9.69% stake, adding another European auto asset to its growing portfolio.

Geely on Saturday announced that it did not have any plans for now to increase its stake any further.

"A Geely stake in Daimler would underscore their push for cooperation that'll help them get more expertise, like electric cars", said Frank Biller, a Stuttgart-based analyst with Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg.

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. It is the owner of Volvo cares, LEVC, the black cabs of London maker, and in 2017 took a majority share in Proton the Malaysian automaker, a stake of $3.3 billion in Volvo trucks and control of Terrarfugia the flying auto start up business.

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Daimler is the world's oldest automaker, with brands including Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars, as well as heavy trucks. The company made regulatory disclosures after the close of markets on 23 February 2018. German watchdog Bafin did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether it was looking into Geely's acquisition of the Daimler stake.

"Daimler is an outstanding company with a first-class management".

"Daimler knows and respects Li Shufu as a Chinese entrepreneur of particular competence and forward thinking".

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. We are not seeking to have a controlling power in Daimler.

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In December, Li became the biggest shareholder in Sweden's Volvo AB, the world's second-largest truckmaker.

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

His statement was followed by a keynote speech by Geely board member Carl-Peter Forster, a former BMW board member and the former head of German carmaker Opel.

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