SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- General Motors Corp. plans to increase its stake in its thriving joint venture with Chinese automakers SAIC and Wuling Automobile, media reports said Wednesday, citing a senior SAIC executive.
Spokesmen for GM and partners SAIC and Wuling refused comment on the reports in China Business News and other state-run newspapers citing SAIC Motor Corp.'s chairman Hu Maoyan as saying that GM was seeking to raise its 34 percent stake in the joint venture. Hu, who was speaking at an industry forum in the northern city of Tianjin, did not give any details.
It was unclear how GM, which says it needs U.S. government help to weather current hard times, would finance such a move, or even if it would be able to convince either of its partners to sell.
Although growth in China's auto sales has slowed recently as the chill from the global slowdown spreads, the country remains one of GM's fastest growing markets.
SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile, with 548,945 vehicles sold in China last year, is one of its star performers.
State-owned SAIC is GM's Shanghai-based partner but aspires to become an international rival. It holds 50.1 percent of the SAIC-GM-Wuling venture and would be reluctant to give up any of those shares, analysts say.
That means Wuling, whose controlling owner is the local government in southwestern China's Guangxi region, would need to pare its minority stake further.
SAIC-GM-Wuling makes small trucks, minivans and Chevrolet Sparks. GM recently said it had begun exports of Chevrolet N200 minivans from the factory to Peru.
GM has eight joint ventures and two wholly owned companies in China, employing more than 20,000 people. The company said its sales in China rose 18.5 percent in 2007 to 1.03 million units.