Shares of Mercedes-maker Daimler fall as rumors fly of a Chinese stake build-up

Key Points
  • Daimler shares have moved lower in Monday trade.
  • It is speculated that a stake in the German firm is being quietly built on behalf of a Chinese partner firm.
  • European stocks were already struggling after a fresh trade tariff announcement from China. 
An employee at a Mercedes-Benz car dealership.
Dmitry Rogulin | TASS | Getty Images

Shares of Daimler dipped Monday following a report that a Chinese partner firm is building a stake in the German automaker.

Reuters reported Friday, citing three sources familiar with the matter, that China's Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. (BAIC) has been buying up shares in the Mercedes-Benz carmaker on the open market, with a view to consolidating a stake of around 4% to 5%. CNBC couldn't independently verify the report.

Shares of Daimler are up 20% so far in 2019, but retreated around 3% Monday amid a wider sell-off for European benchmarks.

One source, cited by Reuters, suggested that the buying this year had been underpinned by BAIC's ambition and that Monday's selling may denote that the buyer is nearly finished acquiring stock.

Building a 5% stake in Daimler at its current stock value would cost a buyer around $3.4 billion.

BAIC builds Mercedes cars in China through their joint venture, Beijing Benz Automotive. Daimler has reportedly been looking to secure a controlling interest in the alliance.

Li Shufu, the chairman of rival Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely, is Daimler's biggest individual stakeholder, holding nearly a 10% slice of the German firm.

After being contacted by CNBC, Daimler said it had no comment to make.