SHARE
COPY LINK

CHINA

China eyes Daimler stake

China's sovereign wealth fund is considering buying a four to 10 percent stake in German car manufacturer Daimler, the website of the official People's Daily newspaper reported.

China eyes Daimler stake
Photo: DPA

The potential purchase comes as China Investment Corp.(CIC), which had more than $480 billion from the wealth fund under management at the end of 2011, seeks bargains in Europe’s weak economy, said the website, quoting unnamed sources.

But a source with knowledge of the matter dismissed the report, saying it was “not true”. Chinese media reported nearly a year ago that Daimler had been in contact with CIC regarding a possible deal.

The Financial Times newspaper valued a purchase of four to 10 percent of Daimler at €1.8 billion to €4.5 billion.

A spokeswoman for CIC, declining to be named, said: “Our consistent policy is that we do not comment on any particular project.”

Daimler, which produces luxury Mercedes-Benz cars as well as trucks, plans to sell 300,000 cars in China in 2015, about two-thirds of which will be from local production, the company said last month.

In October last year, CIC bought a 10 percent stake in the company that controls London’s Heathrow airport, according to Spanish construction group Ferrovial, one of the vendors.

Last January CIC bought a stake in British utility company Thames Water. CIC was established in 2007 to invest some of China’s massive foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest at $3.3 trillion at the end of September last year.

China’s sovereign wealth fund suffered a 4.3 percent loss on its overseas investments in 2011 due to the weak global economy. It was the first loss since 2008, when CIC was hit by the global financial crisis.

AFP/pmw

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CARS

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla’s giant Berlin car factory

In the green forest outside Berlin, a David and Goliath-style battle is playing out between electric carmaker Tesla and environmental campaigners who want to stop its planned "gigafactory".

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla's giant Berlin car factory
Tesla's gigafactory outside the doors of Berlin. dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

“When I saw on TV that the Tesla factory was going to be built here, I couldn’t believe it,” said Steffen Schorch, driving his trusty German-made car.

The 60-year-old from Erkner village in the Berlin commuter belt has become one of the faces of the fight against the US auto giant’s first European factory, due to open in the Brandenburg region near Berlin in July.

“Tesla needs far too much water, and the region does not have this water,” said the environmental activist, a local representative of the Nabu ecologist campaign group.

Announced in November 2019, Tesla’s gigafactory project was warmly welcomed as an endorsement of the “Made in Germany” quality mark – but was immediately met with opposition from local residents.

Demonstrations, legal action, open letters – residents have done everything in their power to delay the project, supported by powerful
environmental campaign groups Nabu and Gruene Liga.

Tesla was forced to temporarily suspend forest clearing last year after campaigners won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes during their winter slumber.

READ MORE: Is Germany’s Volkswagen becoming ‘the new Tesla’ as it ramps up e-vehicle production?

And now they have focused their attention on water consumption – which could reach up to 3.6 million cubic metres a year, or around 30 percent of the region’s available supply, according to the ZDF public broadcaster.

The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages and hit by summer droughts for the past three years.

Local residents and environmentalists are also concerned about the impact on the wetlands, an important source of biodiversity in the region.

Tesla Street

“The water situation is bad, and will get worse,” Heiko Baschin, a spokesman for the neighbourhood association IG Freienbrink, told AFP.

Brandenburg’s environment minister Axel Vogel sought to play down the issue, saying in March that “capacity has not been exceeded for now”.

But the authorities admit that “the impact of droughts is significant” and have set up a working group to examine the issue in the long term.

The gigafactory is set to sprawl over 300 hectares – equivalent to approximately 560 football fields – southwest of the German capital.

Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to “the largest battery factory in the world”,
according to group boss Elon Musk.

In a little over a year and a half, swathes of coniferous forest have already been cleared to make way for vast concrete rectangles on a red earth base, accessed via the already iconic Tesla Strasse (Tesla Street).

German bureaucracy

The new site still has only provisional construction permits, but Tesla has been authorised by local officials to begin work at its own risk.

Final approval depends on an assessment of the project’s environmental impact – including the issue of water.

In theory, if approval is not granted, Tesla will have to dismantle the entire complex at its own expense.

But “pressure is being exerted (on the regulatory authorities), linked to Tesla’s significant investment”, Gruene Liga’s Michael Greschow told AFP.

In early April, Tesla said it was “irritated” by the slow pace of German bureaucracy, calling for exceptions to the rules for projects that help the environment.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier agreed in April that his government “had not done enough” to reduce bureaucracy, lauding the gigafactory as a “very important project”.

Despite Germany’s reputation for efficiency, major infrastructure projects are often held up by bureaucracy criticised as excessive by the business community.

Among the most embarrassing examples are Berlin’s new airport which opened last October after an eight-year delay and Stuttgart’s new train station, which has been under construction since 2010.

Brandenburg’s economy minister, Joerg Steinbach, raised the possibility in February that the Tesla factory could be delayed beyond its July planned opening for the same reason.

SEE ALSO: Tesla advertises over 300 jobs for new Gigafactory near Berlin

SHOW COMMENTS