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Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Smart, has confirmed Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Geely, has aquired a 9.69 per cent stake in the German van, truck and luxury car maker.

According to The Detroit News and other outlets, Li’s stake in the German company cost around €7.3 billion ($11.5 billion).

Li’s 103 million shares make him the largest single shareholder in Daimler, ahead of Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund, which controls around 6.8 per cent of the company.

Li is hopeful his company can establish an alliance with Daimler, with Geely reportedly keen on access to Daimler’s electric vehicle and autonomous driving technology.

Complicating matters slightly, Daimler already has a Chinese manufacturing partner in Beijing-based BAIC Motor.

Above: Geely GC9.

Speaking to Reuters, Li said: “No current car industry player is likely to win this battle against the invaders from outside without friends. To achieve and assert technological leadership, one has to adapt a new way of thinking in terms of sharing and combining strength.

“My investment in Daimler reflects this vision.”

In a statement, Daimler said it was pleased it “could win another long-term orientated shareholder” on the back of its “innovation strength, the strategy and the future potential”.

The German company lauded “Li Shufu as an especially knowledgeable Chinese entrepreneur with clear vision for the future, with whom one can constructive discuss the change in the industry”.

Multiple reports indicate Geely’s executives will meet with Daimler’s within the next week, and are hoping to line up meetings with officials from the German government too.

Above: The new Volvo V60.

Geely is most famous internationally for its ownership of Volvo, which it acquired from Ford for around US$1.8 billion ($2.3 billion) in 2010 as the Blue Oval broke up its Premier Automotive Group to focus its core brand and Lincoln.

In addition to selling vehicles under its own marque, Geely also owns the London Taxi Company. Last year it purchased a majority holding in Lotus, and a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton.

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