Hino Motors has denied having any interest in purchasing some of Volvo's share in Swedish rival Scania. However, a potential stake in the large and reputable European truck manufacturer could give the Japanese manufacturer a solid base in Europe.

The European Commission rejected Volvo's attempted take over of Scania four years ago. However, Volvo still owns 30.6% of the capital and 45.5% of the votes and it has until April 23 to diverge its Scania stake.

It has been reported that the Japanese truck manufacturer Hino Motors, part of Toyota, could offer almost $US411 million for 11 million Scania A-shares, although a spokesman for Hino has denied the suggestion. Volvo dismissed Hino's reported interest as media speculation.

In 2002, Hino Motors agreed a strategic cooperation with Scania, creating synergies in their product line-up and sharing environmental technologies in a bid to increase both companies' share.

Hino Motors is one of the leaders in the Japanese medium and heavy-duty truck sector with a 29.2% market share. The company's principal strategy is to develop its overseas business, focusing principally on the south east Asian and North American markets. The company recently restructured its US distribution company, Hino Diesel Truck, to increase its presence in the market. The manufacturer is also planning to extend its dealership network and launch new products more adapted to US customers.

Although the move has not been confirmed, the potential interest from Hino Motors in purchasing a Scania stake still reflects Hino's stated aim to be one the world's top five truck builders. By the same token, a link-up with Hino would be a plus for the Swedish manufacturer. Its reputation in Asia would be significantly enhanced as, until now, the European manufacturer has relied only on partnership operations.

Although demand for large trucks in Japan has been declining over recent years, Hino Motors has remained on a roll, and its ambitions are exemplified by a joint venture company it recently established with Isuzu to manufacture buses.

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