China's BYD said to buy bus firm for at least $293 mln

BEIJING, July 10 Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:10am EDT

BEIJING, July 10 (Reuters) - Chinese battery and electric car maker BYD Co (1211.HK) is seeking to buy a bus making company in Hunan, central China, to increase production of alternative fuel vehicles, according to the Hunan Economic Committee's website.

BYD, part owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) would pay at least 2 billion yuan ($293 million) to acquire Hunan Sanxiang Bus Group from the Midea Group, the committee said on its website (here).

The facilities located in Changsha, Hunan Province, will become BYD's third manufacturing base in China, will eventually produce BYD's sedans, small vans and components, it added.

BYD would not comment on the announcement.

Volkswagen (VOWG.DE) said earlier this year it plans to explore cooperation with BYD to develop hybrids and electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Volkswagen is the first major industrial partner for BYD, a battery specialist and the fledgling maker of the F6DM plug-in hybrid that sold a 10 percent stake to Berkshire Hathaway in September for $230 million.

Carmakers are racing to develop next-generation lithium-ion batteries capable of making electric vehicles a viable alternative to cars equipped with combustion engines. ($=6.83 yuan) (Reporting by Kirby Chien; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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