BMW will buy back up to 3% or 29.23 million of its shares in the company's first ever buyback programme, it said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

"No decision has been made whether and to what extent BMW, with the current 10% authorisation, will buy back shares over and above the level of 3%," the company said in a statement cited by the news agency.

The authorisation remains valid until November 11, 2006. Shares bought back will be withdrawn from the group's outstanding stock capital.

BMW reportedly added that the purchase price paid per share excluding transaction costs may not be more than 10% above or below the market price as determined on the date of trading by the opening auction in the Xetra electronic trading system.

The timing of the individual purchases would be lead-managed by one or more financial institutions acting independently on behalf of BMW, it added, according to Reuters.

The news agency noted that, during the Frankfurt motor show last week, chief executive Helmut Panke said that the decision over how much stock to be bought would be made by November at the latest.

Essentially controlled by its long-term investor, the Quandt family, BMW has often been criticised in the past for not being friendly enough to shareholders in terms of allowing them to fully participate in the earnings performance of the company, the report added.

While reporting a record profits in early March, BMW took the unusual step of proposing to dip into its sizeable cash surplus to return cash to shareholders in the form of its first ever buyback programme, Reuters said.

The news agency said the move prompted analysts to re-evaluate the stock and issue recommendation upgrades, after many had favoured restructuring stories with greater upside potential such as DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen over the solid performance at BMW.