An employee of German car manufacturer Mercedes Benz installs the brand's characteristic star on a Mercedes S-Class (S-Klasse) at a production line at the Mercedes Benz factory in Sindelfingen, Germany, January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
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The car industry is witnessing one of its biggest disruptions since Karl Benz assembled the first automobile more than a century ago, and Li Shufu wants to play an active part in the revolution. The founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. has become the top shareholder in Daimler AG, the German company that traces its roots to Benz, and inherits a storied legacy with inventions such as the world's first diesel car. The 7.3 billion euro ($9 billion) stake, disclosed Friday and first reported by Bloomberg, represents the biggest investment by a Chinese company in an overseas automaker – and one right in the nerve centers of the global automotive world.Li amassed a 9.7 percent holding in Stuttgart-based Daimler through Geely Group, a company owned by the 54-year-old and managed by his carmaker.Li's closely held Zhejiang Geely Holding Group already owns Volvo Cars AB and last year it took an almost $4 billion stake in truck-maker Volvo AB. Geely also owns London Taxi and controls British sports-car-maker Lotus Cars.Daimler's Chinese partners include BAIC Motor Corp. and Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co., both of which compete with Geely.
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