Daimler AG sold its remaining 4% stake in Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and earned $780 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, the move suggests that the German automaker is planning to make EV batteries in its home country.
Tesla to keep supplying batteries
Bodo Uebber, the Daimler board member for finance, said Tuesday after the close of the U.S. markets, that holding Tesla shares is not necessary for partnership and cooperation.
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However, Tesla will continue to supply batteries to Daimler for the current Mercedes B-class electric car. There is no confirmation that Tesla will supply batteries for future models. Mr. Uebber said the stake sale “will also allow Tesla to broaden its investor base.”
Daimler said in a statement that its partnership with Tesla has been very successful and will be continued. However, the German auto maker also noted its relationship with Tesla “optimally complements our involvement in Deutsche ACCUmotive.” The Daimler ACCUmotive venture is supervised by Daimler and manufactures lithium-ion vehicle batteries in Kamenz, near Dresden, Germany.
Daimler was an initial investor
In May 2009, Daimler acquired 9.1% stake in Tesla, before the company went public, for an estimated $50 million. That same year in July, 40% of that stake was transferred to an investing arm of the government of Abu Dhabi. Daimler’s stake was further reduced to around 4% owing to the capital increases at Tesla.
Daimler is selling the stake at a time when Tesla Motors stock is on the decline. Shares of Tesla peaked $291 in September from $116.10 per share in November 2013. Since September, Tesla shares have dropped about 19%. Analysts are concerned that the market for Tesla Model S electric cars is reaching a saturation point. However, many analysts and investors remain optimistic about the growth potential of the company.
Tesla was not available for immediate comment, and Daimler did not disclose the name of stake buyer. The EV manufacturer has grown significantly since Daimler acquired its stake, and has become a rival to Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand. Daimler’s representative on Tesla Motors board of directors, Harald Kroeger, left the board earlier this year.
The Palo Alto-based company is best known for its unconventional strategies and its direct sales model, while other companies such as General Motors are required to utilize existing dealer networks. However, there has been some discussion that Tesla may also adopt a hybrid model to sell cars both directly to the public and through individual dealerships.