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China's FAW bids for Italian coachbuilder Bertone.

April 2, 2008 - Chinese auto maker FAW Group is now bidding to buy struggling Italian contract manufacturer Carrozzeria Bertone just a few weeks after India Mahindra & Mahindra expressed their interest in the coachbuilder, foreign media Automotive News Europe reported.

FAW apparently wishes to use this acquisition as an entry strategy to the European market. At present, the company does not sell vehicles in western or central Europe, although it does limited business in Russia. Bertone is reported to have the capacity to build up to 100,000 units per year on a three-shift basis.

A deal with Fiat for production of several Lancia models fell through in April 2007, which led Bertone to seek bankruptcy protection in December. Now under administration, the firm is being shopped to new owners who it is hoped can turn the company around.

Automotive News Europe quotes Italian media reports as naming the other bidders for Bertone as Italy's DR Motor, the PLC Group (a German engineering company controlled by Arkk of Japan), Italian design and engineering house Italdesign-Giugiaro and an unspecified Indian vehicle manufacturer thought to be Mahindra & Mahindra.

In another move, FAW also expressed interest in the privatization of Serbia's car manufacturer Zastava and truck and bus producer Fabrika Autobusa Priboj (FAP), in the middle of March. Zastava is 99.99% owned by the Serbian government.
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