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Car maker Nanjing may sell up to 50 pct stake

A technician works at the production line for MG cars of Nanjing Automobile Group in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu province, March 24, 2007. Nanjing MG Motor Co. may sell as much as a 50 percent stake to outside investors to help fund its expansion, its general manager said on Monday. REUTERS/Leo Lang

NANJING (Reuters) - Nanjing MG Motor may sell as much as a 50 percent stake to outside investors to help fund its expansion, its general manager said on Monday.

Nanjing MG is a unit of Nanjing Automobile Group, a medium-sized player based in eastern China that surprised the motoring world when it took over MG Rover in 2005 after the British carmaker collapsed under debts of 1.4 billion pounds, outbidding China’s biggest car maker, SAIC Motor, to obtain rights to the MG sports car brand.

The company will roll out two mid-ranged MG 7 series saloons and an MG TF sports car on Tuesday, priced at between 180,000 yuan and 400,000 yuan (11,800 pounds to 26,300 pounds), Zhang Xin told Reuters in an interview.

It will need 2 billion to 3 billion yuan to increase capacity in the next several years, he added.

“We have been in talks with several potential partners, including funds, in North America and Europe and could sell as much as 50 percent,” Zhang said.

The company also hopes to sell 200,000 vehicles in five years’ time, he added.

Nanjing Auto is one of China’s oldest vehicle makers, beginning life as a military garage in 1947. Its first attempt at vehicle production was a light lorry called the “Yuejin” or “Leap Forward”, a vehicle still seen on Chinese roads today.

It has faced financial difficulties since the late 1990s as domestic rivals secured alliances with foreign firms, such as Ford Motor, BMW and Honda Motor, and chipped away at its market share, analysts have said.

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