Today, February 1st, Daimler agreed to buy 12% of BAIC Motor, Beijing Automotive Group’s passenger car unit.
“Daimler and Beijing Automotive Group will significantly deepen their already strong strategic partnership,” the German group said in a statement. “We will be the first non-Chinese manufacturer to take a stake in a Chinese OEM.”
According to the agreement, Daimler will receive two seats on BAIC Motor’s board of directors. BAIC will also rise its stake in the production JV Beijing Benz Automotive Company by 1% to 51%, while the German automaker will also increase its stake by 1% to 51%. The finalization of the transaction is expected by the end of this year or the beginning of 2014.
“The partnership between BAIC and Daimler has entered into its best phase ever, with further deepened cooperation in accordance with the mutual interests and development plans between both companies,” said Xu Heyi, Chairman of BAIC.
Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche has promised that by the end of the decade Mercedes will regain the top spot lost in 2005 to BMW. But VW’s Audi, currently on the second place, is pursuing the same goal. In 2012 Mercedes lost more ground in front of BMW and Audi as its sales slowed in China compared with its two rivals.