FRANKFURT -- China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is now the top shareholder in German automaker Daimler, the parent of Mercedes Benz, with a 9.69% stake, adding another European auto asset to its growing portfolio.
The shares were purchased on behalf of the Chinese automotive group's chairman, Li Shufu, according to a filing by Daimler, and are worth around $9 billion at current prices. Li has displaced a Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund as the German automaker's top shareholder.
Daimler in the past has denied reports that it was negotiating an investment deal with Geely, but has said it would not be opposed to the Chinese company buying up shares on the open market. Geely has not commented publicly on the purpose of its investment, but is thought to be interested in Daimler's battery technology.
The Chinese automaker is the owner of Sweden's Volvo Cars and Lotus Cars of the U.K., and in December reached a roughly $3.3 billion agreement making it the largest shareholder in Swedish truck maker AB Volvo. By investing in Daimler, the company is thought to be pursuing synergies in the luxury and commercial vehicle segments.