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Daimler gets investors

Editorial Staff

It may say "Daimler" on the doors, but it says "Mercedes-Benz" on the cars, and that's what has attracted almost euro2 milliard of Abu Dhabi money into the company.

It's not long ago that most British buyers looked upon Mercedes as Munich taxis. But a policy of returning to sporting roots of decades earlier and the production of limousine quality vehicles for (almost) everyman overturned that in the 1980s. And since then, Daimler has built a solid reputation for (mostly) solid cars. If you want to look like a captain of industry, there are few more recognisable cars to be driven in.

An ill-fated purchase of Chrysler damaged the brand, particularly in the USA. And US manufacturing quality was simply not up to German standards.

So Chrysler was hived off - at a time when market conditions were not awful. And then, the market turned sour. Badly sour. Chrysler along with GM and Ford watched as their market share held up but the market itself collapsed. In the USA, people stopped buying cars and, in particular, they stopped buying US made cars.

Mercedes, on the other hand, shipped more than 77,000 cars worldwide in February - surprising its own management as much as it surprised everyone else. Its reputation restored, and aided by a strong US dollar, Mercedes were back in the game - not just in the USA but in all dollarised economies.

Right now, there is a lot of money in (some parts of) the Middle East. And a lot if it is being spent in the motor industry. Abu Dhabi interests bought Aston Martin from Ford and now a fund from the same state has bought 9.1% of Daimler.

Highlights from the company's media release:

* Daimler increases share capital by 10% with exclusion of subscription rights of existing shareholders
* After acquiring all new shares, Aabar will hold 9.1% of the new share capital
* Issue price of €20.27 per share close to the current market price
* Total investment of €1,950 million further strengthens Daimler’s sound capital base and offers additional flexibility to invest in new automotive technologies
* Platform for joint strategic initiatives established
* Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG: “We are delighted to welcome Aabar as a new major shareholder that is supportive of our corporate strategy. We look forward to working together to pursue joint strategic initiatives.”
* HE Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar: “Daimler is an iconic brand and a financially strong company with a reputation for excellence worldwide. We are delighted to having received the opportunity to be making this investment.”

* Electric vehicles with a particular focus on projects aiming at the reduction of CO2-emissions
* Development and/or production of innovative compound materials to be used in automotive manufacturing
* Social projects such as the establishment of a training centre in Abu Dhabi to educate young talent for positions in the automotive industry

With Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, Daimler will have two major shareholders in the future. Kuwait has held an equity interest since 1974. Following the capital increase, the equity interest held by Kuwait will amount to 6.9%.