Daimler stake eyed by China investment fund
BEIJING (Reuters) -- China's sovereign wealth fund may buy a stake in Daimler AG, a China media outlet reported.
The state-owned People's Daily newspaper said on its Web site that China Investment Corp., the country's investment vehicle, was interested in buying a stake in Daimler ranging from 4 percent to 10 percent.
The article cited no sources, saying only that the information "had been revealed." The China Investment Corp. declined to comment.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has said he would welcome a Chinese investor in the company. Company spokeswoman Silke Walters declined to comment on the report but said: "In general, we always welcome any new investors as a balanced shareholder structure is in the interest of Daimler."
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the report was without merit. News of the possible investment comes at a time when the Mercedes-Benz parent company is conducting a shake-up of its troubled Chinese operations.
Audi's big lead
In December, Mercedes-Benz sales in China plunged nearly 19 percent year-on-year to 18,910 units, as the company struggled to keep pace with Audi and BMW.
While Mercedes sales stagnated, Audi reported that its China sales jumped nearly 30 percent last year to 405,838 units.
Volkswagen's luxury unit said it enjoyed especially strong demand for the Audi Q5 crossover, which had a 65 percent sales jump. Sales of the long-wheelbase A4 sedan rose 19 percent, while deliveries of the redesigned long-wheelbase A6 sedan rose 17 percent.
In a recent interview with the German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung, Zetsche acknowledged that Mercedes-Benz had failed to keep up with Audi and BMW.
Mercedes is reorganizing its sales network in China, combining separate entities for locally and imported cars into one company. Daimler has also installed Hubertus Troska in a new board position solely responsible for the Chinese market.
-- Automotive News China and Bloomberg News contributed to this story.