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China's Geely Nearly Bought Into BMW Before Daimler Investment

A new report suggests BMW declined an offer made by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu, the founder of Geely.

Chinese billionaire Li Shufu—founder of Chinese automaker Geely, which owns Swedish automaker Volvo—recently became the largest single stakeholder in Mercedes-Benz last month after acquiring almost 10 percent of Daimler’s shares. A new report by Spiegel, via BMW Blog, has emerged suggesting the billionaire was also in talks with cooperating with BMW. According to the report, a potential partnership was discussed in 2016 where the Geely founder promised BMW better access to the Chinese market through his contacts with the Chinese government.
In return, Li Shufu wanted to collaborate in the construction of electric cars instead of purchasing shares. BMW clearly declined his offer, however, as we now know the Bavarian automaker is cooperating with Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motors in a joint venture to develop the Mini Electric in China. BMW isn’t saying why it rejected Li Shufu’s offer, but there's no doubt collaborating with a reputable Chinese carmaker like Great Wall will improve the company’s presence in China. Mini is on track to launch its first EV in 2019, which will be based on the Electric Concept shown at Frankfurt last year.
Like the rest of Mini’s lineup, the EV will be built in Oxford but it remains to be seen if all Mini EV production will take place in China once the factory has been built. Li Shufu, on the other hand, aims to make Geely one of the leading carmakers in the world. His recent stake in Mercedes-Benz could signal the further rise of Chinese companies in the auto industry over the next few years, while his intention to collaborate with BMW shows the billionaire has big plans in the future. Don’t be surprised if more Chinese companies start to collaborate with established Western car manufacturers to open new markets in Europe and America.

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