With headquarters in southeastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has bought around 9.7 percent of Daimler's stake. The size of the investment leapfrogs a 6.8-percent stake in the Stuttgart-based group held by Kuwait and Renault-Nissan's 3.1-percent holding.
"Daimler knows and appreciates Li Shufu as an especially knowledgeable Chinese entrepreneur with a clear vision for the future, with whom one can constructively discuss the change in the industry".
Geely sees potential in Daimler because it is developing high-speed internet connections for autonomous cars at a time when Li believes satellite-based internet connections could become more important for the auto industry, the source familiar with his thinking said. The founder and owner of Geely - the company which has prestigious brands like Volvo, Polestar, Lynk & Co., and Lotus under it - has acquired a $9 billion stake in Daimler.
Geely first tapped into the European market with a buyout of Sweden's Volvo Cars in 2010. Volvo announced previous year that none of its new models from 2019 will have simple combustion engines, but will be powered at least partly by electricity and other sources. It issued a statement saying it was pleased with the investment.
Daimler sold 2.3 million Mercedes-Benz cars worldwide previous year, about a quarter of them in China.
With revenue exceeding RMB 270 billion (about US$43 billion) in 2017, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is China's largest privately owned automotive manufacturing company. Volkswagen AG is owned by the Porsche-Piech billionaire clan with the government of Qatar counting as a major stakeholder, and BMW is owned by the wealthy billionaire Quandt-Klatten family.
Daimler now produces Mercedes-Benz cars and vans, Daimler trucks and busses, and also operates a financial services business.
The company told business daily Handelsblatt yesterday that its relationship with BAIC remained solid.