Before he bought into Daimler, Zhejiang Geely Holding (ZGH) chairman and founder Li Shufu was reportedly looking at cooperating with BMW, according to a Spiegel report. The potential partnership with the Munich automaker was explored sometime in 2016, but would not have involved any share purchases.

The German news website said that Li promised that he could give BMW better inroads to the Chinese market and establish contact with high-ranking political decision-makers in return for access to the German carmaker’s electric tech.

As it turned out, no deal was struck with Geely, and BMW didn’t give any indication as to why it didn’t pan out. It has since announced that it will be cooperating with another Chinese carmaker, Great Wall, to produce electric vehicles in China, particulary on the MINI front.

The report added that Li has been striving to develop the closest possible partnerships with well-known Western automakers to secure more technical know-how and establish cost savings in production in a bid to open up markets for his brand outside of China.

Last month, it was announced that Li had purchased a 9.69% stake in Daimler worth 7.3 billion euros (RM35 billion), making him its largest shareholder, ahead of the Kuwait Investment Authority (6.8%), BlackRock (5.95%) and the 3.1% held by the Renault-Nissan Alliance.