China's BAIC looks to invest in Daimler

Daimler and Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC) are already intertwined in China. Daimler is a 12-percent shareholder in BAIC Motor, the third largest shareholder in the passenger-car division of BAIC. They have a joint manufacturing venture Beijing Benz in which BAIC is the majority partner by one percent, a sales joint venture Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co. in which Daimler is the majority partner by one percent, and Daimer says, "BAIC is our most important partner in China." Beijing Benz is ten years old this year.

They'll become even closer if talks between the two concerning BAIC taking "a major stake" in the German conglomerate come to anything. Reuters reports that the two are in talks now, with BAIC Chairman Xu Heyi saying it should be resolved one way or another by the end of this year. If they agree, the China-based, Hong Kong-listed company will join Renault- Nissan and the Kuwait Investment Authority as Daimler's top shareholders.

Some China analysts see a potential Daimler investment as a coup for BAIC, similar to BAIC's 2009 purchase of old Saab platform, engine, and transmission technologies, that would give it access to technologies it wouldn't have to develop on its own and hastening the development of its own cars. A deal is also seen as potentially opening up export possibilities for the Chinese company. Other analysts aren't sure that BAIC would get any useful technology, noting that that last deal between the two gave BAIC the outdated E-Class platform, but none of Mercedes' headline tech.

If a deal is done, BAIC will join Dongfeng Group and SAIC as Chinese automaker investors in western automotive companies.

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