Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Tom Huddleston Jr.
October 21, 2014

Daimler AG said Tuesday that it has unloaded its 4% stake in Tesla Motors, netting roughly $780 million in the process roughly five years after the German automaker first invested in the electric car company.

Daimler (DDAIY) has worked with Tesla to develop electric car batteries, including for its Mercedes-Benz B-Class electric car. Dieter Zetsche, Daimler’s chairman and the head of Mercedes, said their partnership will not end with the stock sale and that his company will continue to buy the electric engine and other vehicle components from Tesla for its stable of electric vehicles.

“Our partnership with Tesla is very successful and will be continued,” Zetsche said.

Daimler said it would use proceeds from the sale for its operational budget. A Daimler board member added that the transaction also will allow Tesla to “broaden its investor base.”

Daimler, which invested in Tesla in 2009, had watched the value of its stake rise almost from the start, particularly after Tesla’s $266 million initial public offering the following year. In the past 12 months, Tesla’s shares have gained 28%.

Tesla’s stock (TSLA) dipped less than 1% in after-hours trading, following the Daimler announcement. Toyota, another early investor, has retained its stake.

Last month, Tesla announced that it would build a $5 billion factory in Nevada to produce batteries for its electric vehicles. With the so-called Gigafactory, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hopes to be able to make enough batteries to put out 500,000 cars annually by 2020. Meanwhile, earlier this month, Tesla unveiled an all-wheel drive version of its Model-S sedan that includes some automated driving features.

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