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Mystery Indian horse in race for Korean car firm

Mumbai, Nov. 28: Ssangyong Motors, a South Korean automobile major, is up for grabs and an Indian company is among the eight contenders in the fray.

Rumours pointed to the Tatas, who were last month picked as the preferred bidder for Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Company Limited (DWCV) Korea, a race they finally won.

A senior Tata Motor official, however, scotched the buzz that the company had thrown its hat in the ring. “There is no truth in it,” he said. Analysts, too, saw truth in the denial, saying the company that snapped up the Daewoo unit would not go in for back-to-back-acquisitions.

Besides, the vehicles that roll off Ssangyong’s assembly line would make it a better fit for auto majors such as Mahindra & Mahindra, which shares the Korean firm’s strength in multi-utility vehicles. Mahindra officials were not available for comment.

Seven to eight car makers, Korean and from other countries, will join the bidding for Ssangyong Motors, a company that makes sport-utility (SUV) and recreational vehicles.

The bidders could be Chinese and Indian entities, besides a European major that specialises in recreational vehicles. The Chinese entry could be the Blue Star group of China, a state-run petrochemical firm.

What stands out in the bidding is the absence of the world’s top three auto-makers — General Motors, Ford Motor and DaimlerChrysler — in the queue for Ssangyong. Chohung Bank, the main creditor to Ssangyong, could receive letters of intent from bidders by Wednesday. A preferred negotiation partner will be picked early next month.

Ssangyong, driven largely by local demand, had sales of 2.4 trillion won for January to September, and a net profit of 403.8 billion won.

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