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Fri 12 Oct 2012 09:24 AM

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UAE's Aabar sells Daimler stake in $1.6bn deal

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund sells remaining 3.07% stake in German car maker

UAE's Aabar sells Daimler stake in $1.6bn deal
(Getty Images)
UAE's Aabar sells Daimler stake in $1.6bn deal
Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler-Benz. (AFP/Getty Images)

Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Aabar sold its remaining 3.07 percent stake in Daimler worth about 1.25 billion euros ($1.6bn) on October 5, the German carmaker said in a regulatory filing.

The move, widely expected for some time, could heighten pressure on Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche, who has had to fight off calls from some investors to sell or spin off the group's commercial trucks business to concentrate on its underperforming flagship, the luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz.

Amid reports the emirate was planning an exit, finance chief Bodo Uebber was forced to say late in April that the company was not a takeover candidate.

"Aabar realigned its investment in Daimler and we of course respect that," a spokesman for the carmaker said on Thursday.

"We continue to be very pleased with our current shareholder structure," he added, pointing for example to the recent increase in Kuwait's stake to 7.6 percent from a previous 6.9 percent.

The exit of Aabar comes after recent news of a Mercedes profit warning and a possible downward revision to the division's operating margin target for next year. Daimler reports quarterly earnings on October 25.

Daimler shares closed up 0.8 percent on Thursday to finish trading at 38.15 euros, nearly twice as much as the 20.27 euros that Abu Dhabi paid for the shares in a capital increase that excluded existing shareholders back in March 2009.

The deal enthroned Aabar as the largest investor of Daimler after the sovereign wealth fund bought a roughly 9 percent holding for 1.95 billion euros, much of which was promptly loaned out to finance the purchase.

While Aabar no longer owns any stock in Daimler after selling the 32.75 million shares on October 5, the regulatory filing said it still owns cash-settled call options equivalent to 12.75 percent of Daimler's shares.

Abu Dhabi's state-owned fund International Petroleum Investment Co in June posted a $2.25bn fair value loss on the stakes held by its unit Aabar in Daimler.

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