China’s Geely, or rather its chairman Li Shufu, now holds a 9.69 percent stake in Daimler. That’s enough to make the billionaire the single largest shareholder in the company, which of course owns Mercedes-Benz. According to Reuters, recent filings brought this nugget of information to light, and if sources cited by the news outlet are accurate, it could be the beginning of something much larger from the Chinese holding company.
“This is what Chairman Li has envisioned,” said one of the anonymous sources to Reuters. “He thinks maybe one or two or three manufacturers that exist today will survive in this new competition. He thinks existing manufacturers should unite and invest in the future and become one of the two or three companies that will survive.”
In this case, that new competition stems from the development and production of electric and autonomous cars. Geely has made no bones about seeking partnerships for developing this tech, including an attempted buyout of Daimler last November. The holdings firm allegedly made an offer to buy a large amount of shares at a discounted rate, which Daimler rejected along with a message to Geely that it could by stock on the open market. Apparently, Geely’s boss Shufu took that advice to heart, because the 9.69 percent stake equates to around $9 billion.
In any case, if Shufu does indeed see a future with just two or three automakers building cars for the world, it’s quite a bold vision to say the very least, if not borderline crazy considering the dozens of automakers that currently exist. It’s also a bit unnerving to think about that much power consolidated in just a couple major corporations. Geely currently has a controlling stake in a few manufacturers, Lotus and Volvo among them, and the Reuters report suggests this latest grab of Daimler shares may not have been acquired in the friendliest of ways. Interestingly enough, Geely is also the company behind the Chinese automaker Lynk & Co – a very curious name that sounds so much like Lincoln that Ford is taking legal action over it.
The next few months could indeed be very interesting in the automotive world.