Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Russian Machines has denied reports it wants to buy General Motors' Hummer brand. GM declined to comment.

"Russian Machines neither received any proposals to consider acquisition of the Hummer assets, nor is strategically interested in such a deal," the company told Reuters.

A GM spokesman told just-auto that the automaker had previously confirmed that the Hummer brand was up for strategic review, which included a possible sale, but would not be commenting on today's report.

Russian Machines owns one-fifth of Canadian-based components giant Magna International whose vehicle development and assembly unit, Magna Steyr, was recently involved in setting up a production line at Russian automaker Gaz - also owned by Deripaska - to build a previous-generation Chrysler-based model called the Siber.

Sources had earlier told Reuters that GM had had preliminary contact with Deripaska on a possible sale of Hummer, but the talks were only exploratory as Hummer is not yet officially for sale.

One of the sources had said Deripaska would like to involve Magna International in Hummer production if he ended up buying the brand.

As reported by just-auto on Wednesday, GM chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in Thailand that there was "significant interest" in the company's up-for-sale assets, including the Hummer brand but he added any sales "would not be concluded imminently".

Industry sources have told just-auto that initial expressions of interest in Hummer have come from Russia and that India's Mahindra of India - also an SUV maker and exporter - is seen as likely to be attracted to Hummer after Tata recently acquired Jaguar and Land Rover.

Reuters noted that GM, which has lost more than US$51bn over three years and hopes to raise up to $4bn through asset sales, has hired Citibank to consider options for Hummer, whose models are widely perceived as 'gas guzzlers', especially since the global fuel price surge.

The news agency had said earlier that Deripaska had expressed interest in Hummer and that GM had responded, but no official discussions had taken place.

The contact between Deripaska and GM came after reports that the Russian billionaire had been in negotiations with GM about its expansion plans for Russia.

Deripaska acquired a 20% stake in Magna for $1.54bn last September and has pledged to help it expand in Russia, one of the world's fastest growing new vehicle markets and also one where the Hummer brand has a strong cachet.

Magna's Graz, Austria-based contract vehicle development unit, Magna Steyr, has played a key role in updating, 'localising' and putting GAZ Group's previous generation Chrysler Sebring-based Siber into production in Russia, where it is expected to replace the Russian firm's long-in-the-tooth Volga sedan.

Reuters noted that Deripaska had made a failed attempt to buy Chrysler last year while media reports had said he had also been interested in buying Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford - they were eventually sold to Tata Motors.