Daimler near deal to take stake in China partner, report says
Daimler will sign a deal in Germany on Friday to take a 10 percent to 20 percent stake in Beijing Automotive Group's car unit, China's National Business Daily newspaper said on Thursday.
BAIC, which is planning to take its subsidiary, BAIC Motor, public in 2013 or 2014, will also increase its holding in its 50-50 venture with Daimler's Mercedes-Benz to 51 percent, the newspaper said, citing unnamed people.
Currently, each partner has 50 percent of Beijing Benz Automotive Co., which builds Mercedes C- and E-class sedans and the GLK SUV.
Sources told Reuters earlier in the month that Daimler wants to take a 10 percent stake in BAIC and seek a board seat at BAIC Motor.
BAIC and Daimler both declined to comment.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said earlier this month at the Detroit auto show that the German automaker is negotiating its role in a possible BAIC share sale, without giving details.
The two also jointly own the marketing and sales organization Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co., which was set up in December to combine marketing of imported and locally produced cars.
Zetsche has vowed to retake the top spot Mercedes lost to BMW in 2005 by the end of the decade at the latest. Volkswagen Group's Audi, No. 2 in global luxury sales since 2011, is pursuing the same goal.
China is now the No. 3 market for Mercedes after the United States and Germany, but it trails BMW and Audi in the world's largest market. Mercedes' sales in China climbed 4 percent to 206,150 cars in 2012, about half of what Audi delivered. BMW's sales last year rose 41 percent to 326,444 cars.
Daimler has named Hubertus Troska to its board with responsibility for China and is working with BAIC to improve its lagging sales growth.
Reuters and Bloomberg News contributed to this reportContact Automotive News