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AUTOSHOW-China's Geely seeks foreign partners for growth

TOKYO, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Chinese carmaker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd 0175.HK is eager to tie up with foreign car and parts makers, including Japanese ones, to enter a new phase of growth, Chairman Li Shufu said on Monday.

“We started off building and selling cheap cars, but now we are changing,” he told an industry conference in Tokyo ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show this week.

“We are very, very eager to form alliances,” he added.

Geely is one of China’s few privately run auto companies -- and one of its most ambitious -- with no foreign partners locally.

Selling some of China’s cheapest cars under the Geely and Maple brands, Geely is planning to double capacity next year and set up assembly plants in North America and Europe, as it looks to expand beyond a fiercely competitive home market.

“We have great respect for Japanese automakers and want to cooperate with them,” Li said, without ruling out other countries’ manufacturers.

Geely’s various expansion plans in China will bring its annual capacity to 600,000 vehicles. By 2010, it wants to build 1 million cars a year. Geely expects to sell 240,000 cars this year, more than one-third more than last year’s 175,635 units.

Geely now has a deal with Manganese Bronze Holdings Plc MNGS.L to make London black taxi cabs in China starting next year, with an initial capacity of 30,000 units.

Local rival Chery Automobile Co, meanwhile, has a deal to supply small cars to Chrysler LLC.

((Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Hugh Lawson;

ran.kim@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging:

ran.kim.reuters.com@reuters.net; +81 3 5473 3744)) Keywords: AUTOSHOW/GEELY

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