China's wealth fund is unlikely to become key Daimler shareholder, Uebber says
FRANKFURT -- Daimler does not expect China's sovereign wealth fund to take a 10 percent stake in the company, thereby giving the automaker another anchor shareholder alongside Kuwait.
In January, the state-run newspaper People's Daily said the China Investment Corp. may buy a stake in Daimler, whose Mercedes-Benz brand lags rivals Audi and BMW in the important Chinese market.
Reports have said that Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is looking for a new long-term shareholder and would welcome an investor from China.
Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber told a German newspaper today that Chinese investment in the company is unlikely. "No, I don't expect this to happen. There is a lot of speculation about us looking for another anchor shareholder in addition to Kuwait, but that's not true," Uebber told Handelsblatt.
Zetsche aims to increase Mercedes' brand sales in China by 50 percent to 300,000 units by 2015 after they rose by just 2 percent to 196,211 units last year. BMW brand sales jumped 37 percent to 274,985 units, while premium segment leader Audi's sales soared 30 percent to 405,800 vehicles
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.
Unlike Volkswagen, Audi's owner, or BMW, Daimler has no shareholding family behind it. Kuwait has been an investor for decades, currently owning 7.6 percent of the stock. Abu Dhabi state investment company Aabar Investments PJSC sold the remainder of its stake in October after 3 1/2 years as an investor.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this reportContact Automotive News