German luxury carmaker BMW announced Thursday a plan to take control of its China joint-venture, the first foreign automaker to take advantage of Beijing’s new ownership rules for the sector.
BMW will acquire a further 25 percent stake in the venture with Brilliance China Automotive for 3.6 billion euros ($4.2 billion), the company said, bringing its stake to 75 percent by 2022.
Foreign automakers have long been restricted to holding no more than a 50 percent stake in their China operations, but Beijing decided to relax the ownership caps this year.
The reforms are part of Beijing’s plan to further open its economy to foreign business, after years of facing pressure from the United States and Europe.
But US and European business groups say the reforms have still not gone far enough, and have pushed for further opening.
To force the issue, and to hit back at China for alleged theft of American intellectual property, US President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on roughly half of the imports from China.
The joint-venture “is the cornerstone of the BMW brand’s sustained success in its largest single market,” said Harald Kruger, BMW’s chairman.
“BMW Group and Brilliance continue to set a good example of successful cooperation in China,” he said.