FRANKFURT, Oct 17 (Reuters) - German car parts supplier Continental AG expects its business with car and van makers to grow slightly next year as Asia and North American markets offset a difficult European business, its chief executive was quoted saying in a German newspaper.
"Europe will stagnate at its current relatively low level. The trough should have been reached more or less. Maybe there will still be a decline of 1 to 2 percentage points," Financial Times Deutschland quoted CEO Elmar Degenhart saying.
Degenhart said that even though business this year was getting more difficult by the quarter, he still expects Hanover-based Continental to increase sales by more than 7 percent this year to more than 32.5 billion euros ($42.3 billion).
Some of its suppliers, though, were running into difficulties and Continental was lending support in some cases, he added, according to the report published on Wednesday.
Europe's new car market shrank at the fastest pace in the past 12 months in September, leaving nearly all major brands with double-digit declines.
So far this year, western Europe's car market has shrunk by 7.6 percent. ($1 = 0.7679 euros) (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by David Holmes)