July 31, 2020 / 1:29 PM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 1-Chairman of Daimler's China partner BAIC Group retires

(Adds company confirmation)

By Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh

SHANGHAI, July 31 (Reuters) - Chinese state-owned automaker BAIC Group, which has partnerships with German luxury automaker Daimler AG and Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co, said on Friday its chairman has retired.

BAIC said in a WeChat post that Xu Heyi, 62, will be succeeded by Jiang Deyi, currently chairman of state-owned property developer BBMG Corp.

Xu Heyi took office in 2007. During his chairmanship, BAIC Group listed BAIC Motor in Hong Kong and expanded production with Daimler and Hyundai in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

He also launched electric vehicle maker BAIC BluePark , which grew rapidly as a result of Chinese government subsidies for the industry.

BAIC has also signed partnerships on fleet management and autonomous driving with China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.

Analysts however have said listed BAIC Motor has struggled to sell cars under its own brand, leaving its profits heavily reliant on its venture with Daimler. BluePark sales have also declined as the government cut generous subsidies.

Xu led BAIC’s move last year to buy a 5% stake in Daimler which cemented the two companies’ long-standing alliance.

The deal was also seen as a move by BAIC to counter the influence of China’s Geely, which had built up a 9.7% stake in the German automaker.

BAIC’s statement confirmed a Reuters report on Xu’s retirement released earlier on Friday. (Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jan Harvey)

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