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SAIC Says No Plan to Acquire Chrysler
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Chen Hong, vice board chairman of the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), on Saturday denied earlier media reports that the Chinese automaker was considering bidding for a stake in the U.S.-based carmaker Chrysler.

"We have no plan to acquire Chrysler," Chen said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), or parliament.

Chen, a deputy to the NPC, is in Beijing to attend the session which is scheduled to close next Friday.

The speculation surfaced after Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of parent DaimlerChrysler AG, said on Feb. 14 that all options were on the table for money-losing Chrysler and he would not rule out the possibility of sale.

Chrysler announced in February that it lost US$1.48 billion in 2006, compared with US$2.02 billion of profits in 2005.

"SAIC also has no plan to go listing in Hong Kong," said Chen, adding that the priority is to improve corporate governance of its Shanghai-listed subsidiary companies in a bid to boost the group's domestic market share.

According to Chen, SAIC sold 1.34 automobiles, including 915, 000 passenger vehicles, in 2006, up 27 percent from a year earlier, becoming the top car seller in China.

As for the Ssang Yong Motors, a Republic of Korea automaker SAIC acquired late 2004, Chen said operation has been improved though the company reported a loss of 10 million yuan (US$ 1.3 million) last year.

Ssang Yong Motors will focus on cutting costs and improving productivity, quality and service, he added.

With the rapid growth in the number of Chinese citizens who want to have their own cars, Chen said SAIC would continue to turn out new car models in 2007, like other Chinese automakers, to seek higher market share.

In 2006, new vehicles sales in China soared 25.13 percent to 7. 22 million units, making the country overtake Japan to become the world's second largest market for new vehicles only after the United States.

Jiang Lei, vice chairman of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said earlier that car sales in China will grow 15 percent to hit 8 million units this year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2007)

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