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China's Geely 2017 net profit soars amid global push

SHANGHAI, March 21 (Reuters) - Chinese carmaker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, whose chairman recently took a $9 billion stake in Germany's Daimler AG, said on Wednesday its profits more than doubled in 2017, driven by strong domestic sales of popular SUVs.

The automaker, based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, said in a stock exchange filing that 2017 net profit rose 108 percent to 10.6 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) from 5.1 billion yuan in 2016, slightly beating a forecast of 10 billion yuan from analysts polled by Reuters.

The carmaker saw revenue rise 73 percent to 92.8 billion yuan from a year earlier.

Geely Chairman Li Shufu has been making a major global push. He owns Volvo Cars and has built up stakes in truckmaker AB Volvo, Malaysian automaker Proton, flying car start-up Terrafugia and the maker of London's iconic black cabs.

The Daimler deal, which makes Li the largest shareholder in the owner of Mercedes-Benz, is part of an effort to strengthen Geely's technological muscle amid a shake-up of the global auto market by autonomous driving, electric vehicles and car-sharing.

Li, sometimes compared to U.S. auto icon Henry Ford, founded unlisted parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 1986, which was at the time focused on refrigerators. He moved into motorbike manufacturing in the 1990s before switching to cars in 1997. ($1 = 6.3311 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Adam Jourdan Editing by Stephen Coates)