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Old 12-03-2006, 02:34 AM   #5
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Default Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive

Beijing- German-US automaker DaimlerChrysler plans to buy a 24-per-cent stake in the Chinese truck maker Beiqi Foton for 104 million dollars, the Chinese firm said Thursday. Beiqi Foton plans to sell 297 million shares to DaimlerChrysler at 2.75 yuan each for a total value of 817 million yuan, according to a company statement filed with the Shanghai stock exchange.

Foton, China's largest maker of small trucks, is also to sell 129 million shares for 355 million yuan (45.2 million dollars) to its state-owned parent company, it said.

DaimlerChrysler,the world's largest truck maker, said it could not confirm that it had agreed to buy the shares, saying any agreement would remain subject to Chinese government approval.

"We have been in discussions with Foton for quite some time to cooperate to offer medium- to heavy-duty trucks in China," a DaimlerChrysler spokesman said.

"Until the approval process is complete, we can't comment further," he added.

If the deal goes ahead, it would make DaimlerChrysler the second-largest shareholder in Foton, the China Securities Journal said.

The largest stakeholder is Beiqi, Foton's state-owned parent, with a 32-per-cent share, which would be reduced to 31 per cent if the DaimlerChrystler deal goes through.

DaimlerChrysler originally wanted to form a joint-venture with Foton, but it has already reached the limit of two commercial-vehicle joint ventures under Chinese regulations, industry sources said.

The US-German company said last month that it sold 16,400 Mercedes vehicles in China from January to September, up 47 per cent from 2005.

Sales of imported Chrysler Group vehicles also increased by 31 per cent in China, it said.
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