Geely Founder Li Shufu acquires 9.69% of Daimler AG; largest single shareholder

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The chairman of Geely the Chinese carmaker has built up a stake of almost 10% in Daimler the owner of Mercedes Benz, making a bet of $9 billion that he will have success in pushing through an alliance so he can access the technology of the Germany company.

Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely will soon announce a $9.2 billion stake in German luxury conglomerate Daimler AG.

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.

"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".

A Daimler spokesman called the stake purchase a private investment by Li.

Daimler confirmed the holding in a regulatory filing, shortly after Bloomberg News first reported that Geely has been building up a position of just under 10 per cent through purchases in the stock market in recent weeks. It issued a statement saying it was pleased with the investment. He is now one of the wealthiest people in China, with a net worth estmated by Bloomberg at $13.8 billion.

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Geely's investment arrives as Daimler begins moving away from a classic German conglomerate model that shareholders complain is too rigid.

In December past year, it advanced further onto Daimler's turf, investing in AB Volvo, the world's No. 2 truck manufacturer after the Stuttgarters. The Chinese company already owns Volvo Cars AB, whose refreshed line-up of vehicles have made it a popular alternative to the German luxury stalwarts.

Geely also bought 49.9 percent of Malaysia's Proton and a 51 percent stake in Britain's Lotus a year ago.

Late past year, Geely acquired a stake in the Volvo Trucks group, a separate entity, becoming its largest investor in a deal that has not yet closed.

The Stuttgart firm is unusual among its German peers in lacking a single controlling shareholder, whereas Volkswagen is dominated by the Porsche-Piech clan and BMW by the Quandt-Klatten family.

Daimler is making Mercedes-Benz cars for the Chinese market locally via a joint venture with partner BAIC Motor Co (北京汽車).