China's Geely 'corrects' rumors about presidential family ties

FILE PHOTO: The Geely Automobile Holdings logo is pictured at the Auto China 2016 auto show in Beijing, China April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese carmaker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd 0175.HK, long the subject of speculation about its political ties, has moved to dispel a widely held belief its chairman's wife was related to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The carmaker, which owns a major stake in Germany's Daimler DAIGn.DE and the firm that makes London black cabs, revealed in a filing the name of Chairman Li Shufu's spouse was Li Wang, and she jointly held 4.9 million shares in the firm.

Chinese and international media have named Li’s wife as Peng Lijuan, spurring speculation she was related to China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan. The two share a surname and similar first name.

“We are trying to correct the rumors that Li Shufu’s wife is President Xi’s sister-in-law,” a Geely spokesman told Reuters.

One of China’s fastest-rising carmakers, Geely has been on a global spending spree over the past few years, even as Chinese authorities have cracked down on capital outflows and “irrational” overseas deals.

Any suggestion its success was due to political influence would be highly sensitive, especially given that Xi is overseeing a crackdown on corruption that has snared scores of high-profile officials and business leaders.

Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu and Yilei Sun in Beijing, Adam Jourdan in Shanghai; Editing by Stephen Coates