UPDATE 2-Daimler in $2 bln China investment with BAIC as Geely swoops

From Reuters - February 25, 2018

BERLIN (Reuters) - Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and its Chinese partner BAIC (1958.HK) plan to invest almost $2 billion in a state-of-the-art factory in China, underlining their relationship as rival Geely (0175.HK) makes a surprise swoop on the German carmaker.

The two will invest more than 11.9 billion yuan ($1.88 billion) in modernizing a plant to build premium Mercedes-Benz cars including electric vehicles, BAIC said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange dated Friday and confirmed by Daimler on Sunday.

The chairman of Chinese carmaker Geely said late on Friday he had bought an almost 10 percent stake in Daimler, in a $9 billion bet to access the Mercedes-Benz owners technology.

The move poses a challenge to Daimler, which as well as its Chinese partnership with BAIC Motor Corporation has an industrial alliance to develop cars and trucks with Renault-Nissan (RENA.PA), which owns a 3.1 percent stake in Daimler.

Geelys Chairman Li Shufu, who quietly built up the 9.7 percent stake, is now expected to meet Daimler executives in Stuttgart on Monday, a source familiar with the matter said, and hopes to meet top German government officials in Berlin.

His approach contrasts with that of previous Chinese investors in German technology companies - such as Midea (000333.SZ), which bought Kuka (KU2G.DE) or Weichai (000338.SZ), which bought a large stake in Kion (KGX.DE) - who have tended to engage in lengthy consultation with stakeholders.


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