Suzuki denies reports it has resumed talks with Volkswagen

TOKYO Thu Aug 1, 2013 3:07am EDT

Suzuki Motor Corp's Toshihiro Suzuki poses with a new Suzuki Swift during a news conference in Bangkok March 21, 2012. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Suzuki Motor Corp's Toshihiro Suzuki poses with a new Suzuki Swift during a news conference in Bangkok March 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T) Executive Vice President Toshihiro Suzuki denied recent media reports that it and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) have resumed talks on how to resolve a dispute about a partnership deal.

"There have been various reports, but there absolutely are no such facts, so there is nothing I can talk about on this topic," he told a news conference on Thursday after Suzuki reported quarterly earnings.

Japan's No. 4 automaker by sales volume filed for international arbitration in a bitter dispute with Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) in 2011, after the German automaker refused to sell back its 20 percent stake in the Japanese firm.

Suzuki accused its German partner of withholding hybrid powertrain technology it promised to share and demanded a return of the 19.9 percent stake Volkswagen bought for about 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in January 2009.

The two carmakers have resumed talks at the board level and both now see potential from continued cooperation, but whether the dispute can be fully resolved remains to be seen, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

Suzuki posted 44.1 billion yen ($448 million) in April-June operating profit on Thursday, a record for its first quarter, after increased car sales in Indonesia and Thailand offset a slowdown in India, its biggest market. Its subsidiary Maruti Suzuki (MRTI.NS) is India's biggest carmaker.

Suzuki said its car sales in India in April-June dropped 10.2 percent due to an economic slowdown and a drop in popularity of diesel-powered vehicles.

For its full fiscal year, Suzuki raised its operating profit forecast by 10 percent to 165 billion yen, helped by the weaker yen.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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