Chairman of China's automaker BAIC to retire -sources

SHANGHAI, July 31 (Reuters) - The chairman of China’s state-owned automaker BAIC Group, which has partnerships with German luxury automaker Daimler AG and Korean Hyundai Motor Co, is set to retire, two people familiar with the matter said.

Xu Heyi, 62, took office in 2007. During the chairmanship of BAIC Group, he developed electric vehicle maker BAIC BluePark and helped Daimler and Hyundai expand their production in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

Xu’s retirement will be announced as soon as this week, sources said. BAIC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

He led BAIC’s move last year to buy a 5% stake in Daimler which cemented the 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. (Reporting by Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh in Shanghai Editing by Shri Navaratnam)