Daimler AG has announced that Li Shufu, chairman and founder of Zhejiang Geely Holding (ZGH), is now its largest shareholder with a stake of 9.69%. This places Li ahead of the Kuwait Investment Authority (6.8%), BlackRock (5.95%) and the 3.1% held by the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

According to Bloomberg, the stake is worth about 7.3 billion euros (about RM35 billion), making it the biggest investment by a Chinese company in an overseas automaker. With the deal now made official, months of “will they, won’t they” speculations have now been put to a rest.

“Daimler is an outstanding company with a first-class management. It will be an honour to support this unique team under the leadership of Dieter Zetsche in the future. I am particularly pleased to accompany Daimler on its way to becoming the world’s leading electro-mobility provider,” said Li.

While both companies aren’t discussing what their future plans are yet, the partnership will likely involved technology sharing, with Geely keen on accessing Daimler’s electric vehicle and autonomous driving technology.

“Competitors that are (not) challenging the global car industry in the 21st century technologically are not part of the automotive industry today. In order to succeed and seize the technology highland, one has to have friends, partners, and alliances and adapt a new way of thinking in terms of sharing and united strength,” Li said in a statement.

How the deal will affect Daimler’s partnership with BAIC and BYD – both Geely’s competitors – remains to be seen. Daimler recently announced plans to manufacture electric vehicles through a joint venture with BAIC, with both companies looking to invest more than 11.9 billion yuan (more than RM7 billion) to build a new factory in China.