The chairman of a Chinese automaker has taken a 10% stake in German automaker Daimler AG.
In a filing in Germany late Friday, it was disclosed that Li Shufu, the chairman of Chinese automaker Geely, had bought 103.6 million shares of Daimler stock, worth $9 billion.
The stake will not be owned by Geely. It will be held by an investment vehicle known as Tenaclou3 Prospect Investment Ltd., according to the filing.
Geely has already shown an interest in Western automakers. In 2010, it purchased Volvo from then cash-starved Ford Motor for $1.8 billion. At the time it was by far the biggest purchase by a Chinese automaker, though it was for a fraction of the $6.4 billion that Ford had paid for Volvo in 1999.
Daimler is the world's oldest automaker, with brands including Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars, as well as heavy trucks. It issued a statement saying it was pleased with the investment.
"Daimler knows and appreciates Li Shufu as an especially knowledgeable Chinese entrepreneur with clear vision for the future, with whom one can constructively discuss the change in the industry," it said.
China is now the largest market for auto sales, and virtually all Western automakers have operations there, typically with a Chinese partner. Daimler's Chinese partner is not Geely but is Baic Motors, which it described as a "strong partner"