Chinese companies set to vie for influence over Mercedes-Benz

A two-way battle for influence over Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz, is brewing with Chinese automakers who want deeper ties with the Germany company.

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Derek Fung

Geely, the parent company of Volvo Cars, is keen to deepen its ties with Daimler, which this could lead to some interesting behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

Over the weekend, Li Shufu, Geely’s founder and boss, told Reuters he wanted to investigate the possibility of more cooperation with Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, Daimler.

The two automakers began working together in 2018, when Geely and Li bought a 9.69 per cent stake in Daimler.

The two companies initially agreed to work on a number of China-specific vehicle and services projects together.

In 2019 Geely bought 50 per cent of the Smart brand, and will lead development of the next round of models. Global production will also shift from France to China.

All of this action has apparently ruffled feathers at BAIC, an automaker owned by the Beijing municipal government. BAIC has been Daimler’s joint venture production partner for several decades in China, and currently has a roughly five per cent stake in the German automaker.

According to a report from Reuters back in December 2019, BAIC was keen to raise its holding in Daimler to 10 per cent and gain a seat on the luxury car maker’s board – something Geely, although it is currently the largest single shareholder in Daimler, doesn’t have.

The report indicates BAIC has engaged HSBC to purchase shares on the open market on its behalf, with the bank reportedly hoovering up a five per cent stake in the firm.


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