Daimler shareholder Li Shufu calls for more partnerships in automotive industry

Source: Xinhua| 2018-04-16 22:48:51|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BERLIN, April 16 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese automotive investor and Geely-owner Li Shufu urged German carmaker Daimler AG to enter further strategic partnerships on Monday.

Li recently became the single largest shareholder of Daimler after acquiring a 9.69 percent stake in the Stuttgart-based company.

Writing in an opinion published in the newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", Li said that traditional carmakers could only survive far-reaching structural change in the automotive industry through enhanced cooperation.

"We must actively assess the possibility of comprehensive alliances, instead of hiding from reality by sticking our heads in the sand," Li wrote. He added that "any legally-feasible bilateral and multilateral cooperation of mutual benefit" needed to be "discussed."

The opinion piece was widely-interpreted in German media as a sign that the new Daimler shareholder would play an active role in shaping the company's future. Earlier, Li already added Volvo to his portfolio of vehicle brands and helped the struggling Swedish carmaker achieve a commercial turn-around.

Li highlighted on Monday that carmakers who were willing to face significant challenges, such as a need to pivot to self-driving and electric-powered technologies, could still benefit in the long-run. According to the automotive investor, those who were "ready to unite to create digital platforms", which can be used cooperatively by their diverse brands, would have a "recipe for success" in a "more and more embattled industry."

Li emphasized the current transition phase would be a critical juncture for carmakers as they struggled to juggle competing goals of profitability and sustainability. Nevertheless, he expressed optimism that it would be possible to "use global economies of scale and reduce risks" on the one hand, while ensuring the "independence of brands" and "autonomy of management" on the other. Additionally, carmakers could keep increasing dividends to shareholders in parallel to creating greater product differentiation and respecting intellectual property rights.

Since it was founded by Li in 1986, Geely Automobiles has grown into one of the leading carmakers in China.