Not a surprise considering Geely also sought to buy FCA in 2017

Geely’s purchase of $9 billion in Daimler shares made it the biggest shareholder in the German automaker. But before Geely chairman and founder Li Shufu rose to become the largest single shareholder at Mercedes-Benz, he apparently had his eyes on the German automaker’s biggest rival, BMW. A report from German news outlet Spiegel revealed that Geely was actually in talks with Bimmer executives. According to the report, Geely promised BMW better access to the Chinese market in exchange for co-operative sharing of electric car technology between the two brands.

Geely Looking To Acquire Daimler AG Stock
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The recent report once again puts into focus Geely’s aggressive expansion plans

As we all know, the BMW-Geely partnership never amounted to anything because Bimmer ultimately decided to strike a deal with another Chinese automaker, Great Wall. Talks between Geely and BMW apparently go back to 2016, so it happened before the Chinese company had any meaningful talks with Daimler. It’s unclear if Daimler is going to feel a little slighted with being Geely’s “fallback” option, but the two sides seem to be happy to have a deal in place. In fact, Reuters reported late last month that a contingent of Geely executives already went to Germany to meet with their counterparts in Daimler.

The recent report once again puts into focus Geely’s aggressive expansion plans. In this decade alone, the largest privately owned Chinese automaker has purchased Volvo, Lotus, and the London Taxi Cab Company. It also started its own electric car brand, Lynk & Co., and bought startup flying car manufacturer Terrafugia. In addition to its failed overtures with BMW, the company also had talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles last year over the possibility of a buyout.

Lotus Finally Gets A New Owner!
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Chinese automaker has purchased Volvo, Lotus, and the London Taxi Cab Company

All of this is part of Li’s plan to become a major player in the auto industry. “No current car industry player is likely to win this battle against the invaders from outside without friends,” he said. “To achieve and assert technological leadership, one has to adopt a new way of thinking in terms of sharing and combining strength. My investment in Daimler reflects this vision.”

That much is clear now, but what if Geely and BMW struck a deal first? Would that have affected the company’s purchase of Daimler stock? We’ll probably never know the answer to that question, but what Geely has achieved in the last few years is still impressive. Here’s to hoping that all of its investments work in some form or capacity.

References

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