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Geely has acquired close to 10 per cent of Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler for about $9bn, becoming its largest shareholder in the latest sign of the global ambitions of the Chinese group.

German automaker Daimler says the chairman of Chinese carmaker Geely has purchased more than 9 percent of its shares.

It's no secret that Geely was looking to strike an alliance with Daimler the past few months over EV technologies, as the Chinese government's requirements for cleaner cars create pressure on automakers. The official transaction could be announced by the Hangzhou-based automaker in the coming days, sources told Bloomberg News.

The Daimler stake was purchased by an investment company headed by Li called Tenaclou3 Prospect Investment, according to the Daimler filing. "It will be an honor to support this unique team under the leadership of Dieter Zetsche in the future", said Li Shufu, chairman and owner of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Geely Group.

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Ferdinand Dudenhoffer, a professor who runs an automotive research centre at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said many people in Germany were cautious about investments by Chinese companies.

Daimler now has a joint venture with BYD in China to build electric cars.

Daimler and Geely could not be immediately reached by Xinhua for comments.

The stake will not be owned by Geely. Geely Holding has also started an automotive brand, Lynk & Co, aimed at wealthier buyers.

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Geely's expansion comes only weeks after a $3.9bn move to become the biggest shareholder in truckmaker Volvo AB.

The Chinese group bought Volvo Cars from Ford in 2010, and has since transformed the fortunes of the Swedish carmaker. It is the owner of Volvo cares, LEVC, the black cabs of London maker, and in 2017 took a majority share in Proton the Malaysian automaker, a stake of $3.3 billion in Volvo trucks and control of Terrarfugia the flying vehicle start up business.

Li Shufu: "The competitors that challenge the global vehicle industry in the 21st century technologically are not part of the automotive industry today".

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