Daimler plays down talk it could sell Maybach brand

FRANKFURT/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - German carmaker Daimler AG DAIGn.DE dismissed market talk on Tuesday it could divest its Maybach super luxury brand, after Chinese media reported that a Chinese firm was considering buying the brand.

The Guangzhou Daily and other local media said on Monday that Chinese car and battery maker BYD 1211.HK was weighing the possibility of taking over Maybach from Daimler and that it would make a move once the brand was put up for sale.

“Maybach is an important part of Daimler’s product portfolio. There is no other decision,” a Daimler spokesman said.

Daimler sold just 200 units of the Maybach brand last year, a fraction of the volumes that BMW's BMWG.DE Rolls-Royce or Volkswagen's VOWG_p.DE Bentley manage.

Paul Lin, a spokesman at BYD in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, where the firm is based, also denied the reports.

“It’s not true, it’s market speculation. We got calls from the media and we have checked with Chairman Wang,” Lin said, referring to Wang Chuanfu, chairman of BYD.

Asked whether BYD had had any initial contact with Daimler on buying Maybach, he replied: “No.”

Hong-Kong listed BYD is 10 percent owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway BRKa.N and has its roots as a battery maker for Nokia NOK1V.HE and Motorola MOT.N.

BYD would focus for now on its cooperation with Daimler on developing electric cars for the Chinese market, Lin told Reuters.

The two announced the plan at the start of this month, underscoring the German automaker’s dependence on outside companies to gain share in the market for zero-emission vehicles.

Reporting by Hendrik Sackmann and Fang Yan; Writing by Jason Subler; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner