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Volvo CEO plays down any Scania/MAN merger-paper

FRANKFURT, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Any deal to merge Germany's MAN AG MANG.DE with Swedish rival Scania SCVb.ST would not relieve competitive pressure on the trucks market, Volvo VOLVb.ST Chief Executive Leif Johansson told a newspaper.

“A merger between the German and the Swedish producers would have little impact on the market, where brutal competition already reigns,” he was quoted as telling the Financial Times Deutschland in an interview published on Monday.

It said he dismissed recent market rumours that Volvo could emerge as a bidder for MAN, noting Volvo’s position as the world’s second-biggest truckmaker made this impossible for anti-trust reasons.

MAN last month dropped its hostile 10.3-billion-euro ($13.4 billion) cash and stock bid for Scania in favour of talks seeking a friendly deal that would create the European truck market leader, ahead of Volvo.

Johansson declined to predict whether a MAN/Scania deal would come to pass, but said sector consolidation was inevitable.

“In five years there will be only six or seven really big global truckmakers. We will be one of them,” he said.

On other subjects, he said Volvo had held "very constructive talks" with China's Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd 0489.HK as part of Volvo's plan to expand its presence in Asia, where it wants to double sales within five years.

Dongfeng said last month it was in talks to bring Volvo into its existing alliance with Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd 7201.T and that Volvo may as a result replace Nissan as its partner in making heavy and medium-duty commercial vehicles and engines.

Given Beijing’s restrictions on foreign investment in China, it was easier to make acquisitions in India, Johansson said, “but market growth there is also slower”.

((Reporting by Michael Shields; michael.shields@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging: michael.shields.reuters.com@reuters.net; +49 69 7565 1232))

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