Economy, Auto

Geely Covets Daimler Tech With $9 Billion Stake, Shares Surge

Geely chief Li Shufu is Daimler’s biggest shareholder.Geely chief Li Shufu is Daimler’s biggest shareholder.

Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd’s shares jumped on Monday after its chairman Li Shufu revealed he had built a $9 billion stake in Daimler AG, gaining leverage as he tries to convince the German carmaker to cooperate on technology.

The 9.7% holding makes Li Daimler’s biggest shareholder and gives him a leg up to the negotiating table after the Mercedes-Benz owner knocked back a request from Geely late last year to issue new shares so it could buy a stake, Reuters reported.

Li, 54, is expected to meet Daimler executives in Stuttgart on Monday and hopes to meet top German officials in Berlin.

But even so, gaining access to Daimler’s technologies in areas such as autonomous driving and electric vehicles is not expected to be an easy task, particularly as Daimler already has a thriving joint venture partnership in China with BAIC Motor Corporation.

“It’s one thing to be an investor, a significant investor, but it’s another to be an alliance partner,” said James Chao, Asia-Pacific chief of consultancy IHS Markit Automotive.

“I think this is the start of a process of negotiations to get something hammered out... Whether or not it will work, we’ll see.”

Geely Auto’s stock surged 7% on Monday, giving it a market value of some $29 billion, as investors cheered the Geely group’s efforts to forge an alliance with Daimler. Shares in Daimler edged 0.6% lower in early trade.

Li, who founded Zhejiang Geely Holding Group - the parent firm of the group - in 1986, said on Saturday that alliances were necessary to respond to the challenge from “invaders” in the global auto market, a reference to firms such as Tesla, Google and Uber.

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