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Brilliance Warns It Will Lose Money
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Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd, BMW Corp's Chinese mainland partner, said yesterday it will lose money in the 2005 fiscal year.


The group, which manufactures Jinbei minibuses and Zhonghua sedans, will release its 2005 results in April.


Hong Kong-listed Brilliance said falling automobile prices, rising global fuel prices, a production oversupply and intense competition in the Chinese mainland's auto industry have hurt the company's bottom line.


The company reported a loss of 299 million yuan (US$37.4 million) in its half-year report ending in June. Net profit in 2004 fell 95 percent to 48.6 million yuan compared to the previous year.


"The core business of Brilliance is the minibus, but it needs to expand its car unit, which has only two brands," Li Jian, analyst at Xiangcai Securities Co, said yesterday.


It manufactures both the Zunchi and Zhonghua sedans. The two Zhonghua models are among the mainland's most luxurious automobiles made by a homegrown firm.


Sales of Zhonghu sedans slumped to 10,000 units last year, compared with 10,982 for 2004. The sales drop was in stark contrast to the auto industry's 25 percent average gain last year. The company cut the price of its newer Zhonghua sedan 40,000 yuan (US$4,978), or 20 percent, to boost competitiveness.


In an effort to stop the freefall, Brilliance appointed Qi Yuming as its new chairman of the board in January. Previously Qi was vice mayor of Dalian, Liaoning Province.


(Shanghai Daily March 8, 2006)


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