It’s possible that China's sovereign wealth fund will purchase a stake in Daimler AG, according to a China media outlet, the state-owned People's Daily newspaper. It reported that China Investment Corp., the investment vehicle in the country, is considering a plan to buy a stake in Daimler that ranges from 4% to 10%. No sources were cited by the article.
The China Investment Corp. hasn’t released a comment about this matter yet. In the past, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has said that a Chinese investor is welcome. Company spokeswoman Silke Walters didn’t directly address the comment but said that generally, Daimler wants a balanced shareholder structure so it will “always welcome” any new investors. A source told Reuters that there was no merit to this report.
Reports about this potential investment coincide with moves by the Mercedes-Benz parent company to shake up its troubled Chinese operations. Last December, Mercedes-Benz sales in China fell by almost 19% year-on-year to 18,910 units, as the company faced challenges just to keep up with Audi and BMW. Mercedes sales languished but Audi sales in China surged by almost 30% last year to 405,838 units.
Audi experienced strong demand for the Audi Q5 crossover, which posted a 65% sales increase. Sales of the long-wheelbase A4 sedan increased by 19%. Meanwhile, deliveries of the redesigned long-wheelbase A6 sedan climbed by 17%.
When interviewed by German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung recently, Zetsche admitted that Mercedes-Benz had not been able to keep up with Audi and BMW. Mercedes is reorganizing its sales network in China, merging different entities for locally and imported cars into one company. In addition, Daimler appointed Hubertus Troska in a new board position that’s responsible just for the market in China.