Money talks and no sooner the announcement was officially made last month about 9.7 per cent stake of Daimler worth US$ 9bn being picked up by Chinese billionaire Li Shifu, dissenting voices related to the acquisition are beginning to surface.
While it’s no secret anymore that cash-rich Chinese companies are fast tracking investments in hi-tech companies in a bid to stay ahead of the game, analysts suggest that in the case of Li Shifu, whose holdings include Geely, Volvo, Lotus among others, the US$9bn gamble on Daimler shares was to get access to Mercedes-Benz technology and fast track it into Geely.
Post purchase, Li Shifu has held initial talks with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and discussed the potential of working together to solve some of the challenges in the shift to electric and self-driving cars.
When questioned, about possible ramifications, Daimler Zetsche maintained a more neutral tone in an official statement, welcoming the new shareholder but cautioning that Mercedes-Benz must fulfil its existing partnership obligations with Geely rival BAIC.
BAIC and Mercedes have already agreed to cooperate on building their fifth car in China this year, and on an electric crossover under the newly minted EQ nameplate to come out in 2020. In China, Geely products directly compete with those from BAIC. BAIC has a partnership to develop cars and trucks with Renault-Nissan, which has a 3.1per cent stake in Daimler.
What remains to be seen is how soon Shifu can negotiate Mercedes technology transfer to help Geely upgrade its products.
Not surprising is the fact that sources from Daimler and Volvo have hinted at resistance to sharing intellectual property with Geely.