Mercedes-Brawn buy-in pulls in capital Daimler's largest shareholder Aabar wants to beef up its 9.1 percent stake in the German carmaker after teaming up to jointly acquire a majority of Formula One champions Brawn GP.
Shares in Daimler rose over 4 percent on the back of comments from Aabar Chairman Khadem al Qubaisi to Bloomberg on Monday that the Abu Dhabi-listed investment company was "in talks" to raise its holding to 15 percent. The timing would depend on the stock price, he said.
When asked on Monday whether Aabar was considering raising its interest in Daimler, al-Qubaisi told Reuters by telephone "yes", without elaborating further.
The listed non-energy investment arm of Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund IPIC, invested 1.95 billion Euros ($2.9 billion) in March year to overtake the Gulf state of Kuwait as Daimler's largest shareholder.
Raising its interest to 15 percent would require buying an additional 62.7 million shares, which would cost Aabar another 2.24 billion Euros at current prices.
Daimler declined to comment on Aabar's statements.
Abu Dhabi pumps most of the oil produced by the United Arab Emirates, the world's third-largest oil exporter. Fuelled by a six-year boom in oil prices, the emirate plans to diversify its economy away from its heavy reliance on petroleum.
In August, Aabar said it was setting up vehicle and engine manufacturing plants in Algeria with five German firms, including Daimler.
Gulf states have been avid investors in German automotive firms. Natural gas-rich Qatar has taken a 10 percent voting stake in Porsche SE and plans to buy 17 percent in Volkswagen's ordinary shares.
Aabar's al-Qubaisi, who has said he owns a Mercedes-Benz SLR super sportscar, said in March he would be a more active investor than Kuwait and had not excluded the possibility of gaining a seat on the supervisory board.
So far, the Aabar chairman and IPIC chief executive has kept his promise, buying roughly 4 percent of electric car start-up Tesla Motors from Daimler in July, affirming the oil-rich emirate's desire to expand into low-emission technology.
The latest project to strengthen ties to Daimler is Monday's announcement of jointly acquiring a majority holding in the champion Formula One team, Brawn GP, weeks after the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Daimler will own 45.1 percent of the team, with Aabar controlling another 30 percent. The remaining 24.9 percent will continue to be held by the current owners.
"The new Mercedes Grand Prix racing team will compete in the 2010 Formula One World Championship under the continuing leadership of team principal Ross Brawn," Aabar said on Monday that did not disclose financial details.
The Brawn deal emphasized Daimler's commitment to its Formula One racing heritage, just as other teams like BMW and Toyota were pulling out of the circuit amid the considerable costs.