Geely, owner of Volvo and holder of a substantial stake in Proton, is proceeding with the acquisition of a stake in Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, although the exact amount of the purchase is unknown. This was reported by Hong Kong’s The Standard newspaper, quoting state broadcaster China Central Television.

It is said that Geely has shown interest in acquiring between three to five percent of Daimler, which would account for about four billion euros. If the deal materialises, Geely would become the third largest shareholder of the Mercedes-Benz maker.

Daimler reportedly rejected a Geely bid to buy 5% of the company last month, but told Geely it was welcome to scoop up shares in the open market, sources added. Both carmakers apparently met in Beijing in November.

A spokesman for Geely declined comment. A Daimler spokesman said the company was “very happy with our shareholder structure at present,” but added that it would welcome new investors with a long-term interest in the company.

Insiders believe that this is all to do with electric vehicle technology, in view of China’s tough new quotas aimed at reducing pollution and lowering the country’s reliance on oil. Sources say that Geely wants to access Daimler’s EV battery technology and wants to start an EV joint venture in Wuhan.

Strangely, the report did not mention Daimler’s existing Chinese partners – the German company has a venture with BYD, China’s leading EV maker, and is also married to state-owned BAIC there. The latter has announced that it will stop the production and sales of vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2025, going full electric.