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Sheikdom set to control Daimler's biggest holder

A company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi has pumped an additional US$1.41 billion into Aabar Investment PJSC, giving the emirate majority control in the investment firm set to become Daimler AG's biggest shareholder.

The announcement yesterday came a day after Abu Dhabi-based Aabar - an investment vehicle set up by the Persian Gulf sheikdom - said it would pay nearly 2 billion euros (US$2.72 billion) for a 9.1-percent stake in the German auto maker best known for its Mercedes-Benz brand.

Aabar differs from many of the oil-rich Persian Gulf's sovereign wealth funds in that some of its shares are publicly traded. That arrangement is expected to continue, although the government will now have a clear controlling interest in Aabar.

In a statement yesterday, Aabar said that Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Co has finished buying 5.18 billion dirhams (US$1.41 billion) in Aabar bonds that will be converted into ordinary shares.

IPIC is fully owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven semi-autonomous city-states comprising the United Arab Emirates and holder of most of the Persian Gulf country's vast oil wealth. Abu Dhabi is the federation's capital.

Stake increase

Yesterday's announcement follows a similar cash injection worth about US$408 million by IPIC last month. Once the latest stock conversion is complete, IPIC will own 71 percent of Aabar, up from about 36 percent now.

IPIC is chaired by Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a prominent member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, which controls the UAE presidency. He led the takeover of English football team Manchester City and joined Qatari investors in pumping billions of dollars into British bank Barclays PLC last year.

The Daimler deal appears to be Aabar's biggest overseas investment yet.

In December, Aabar agreed to buy American International Group Inc's Swiss-based wealth management arm AIG Private Bank Ltd.

According to its annual report, Aabar paid 307 million Swiss francs (US$273 million) for the bank and assumed about 100 million Swiss francs worth of debt.


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