Hyundai Motor denies interest in Chrysler assets

SEOUL Fri Nov 7, 2008 11:22pm EST

A Chrysler vehicle is shown for sale in Carlsbad, California October 29, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A Chrysler vehicle is shown for sale in Carlsbad, California October 29, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) on Saturday denied its interest in Chrysler's assets, adding it had no capacity for a new acquisition as it focused on completing construction of overseas plants.

On Friday, Reuters reported Hyundai had had talks with Chrysler LLC owner Cerberus Capital Management about a potential acquisition of the struggling U.S. automaker's Jeep brand and possibly other assets, citing people with knowledge of the talks.

"We have no interest in whatsoever in acquiring Chrysler, including Jeep and have not engaged in any discussions with Cerberus on this matter," Hyundai Motor spokesman Jake Jang said.

"Our hands are full now."

The emergence of South Korea's largest automaker as a potential bidder for at least part of Chrysler came on the same day as General Motors Corp (GM.N) said it shelved its own pursuit of an acquisition of its cross-town rival.

Cerberus planned to restart talks with other potential partners for Chrysler, including Renault-Nissan, the sources said.

Jeep is considered Chrysler's most valuable asset.

Hyundai, the world's No. 5 carmaker along with affiliate Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS), has a 3 percent share of the U.S. market.

It has aspirations to be a full-line auto manufacturer. Based on low pricing and an attention-grabbing 10-year warranty, Hyundai saw sharp growth in U.S. sales earlier this decade.

Hyundai has plants in the United States, China, India, Turkey, Slovakia and the Czech Republic for production diversification and overseas sales boost.

In June, it started building its St Petersburg plant in Russia with investment of 330 million euros ($419.4 million) for a January, 2011 launch.

(Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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