Ford Motor Co. on Thursday stepped up its campaign to take over Daewoo Motor Co., offering to build up the troubled automaker's presence in Asian and Eastern Europen markets.
"We would like to think of Daewoo as the engine of growth for the Ford group in Asia and Eastern Europe," Wayne Booker, vice chairman of Ford Motor Co. said in a press statement.

"This would be the intial focus of our efforts. Next we would focus on growth in the mature markets of North America and Western Europe. We believe Daewoo would be a very complementary brand to the Ford family in these markets," he said.

At a press conference, Booker said Daewoo's vehicles are "very competitive" in Eastern Europe, where Ford is "not a major player."

Daewoo has opened operations in recent years in Eastern Europe, including Romania, Poland and the Ukraine.

"The type of vehicles Daewoo have are very competitive in those markets. I think with a proper financing, there is a great market potential for Daewoo in those types of products in those markets," he told journalists.

He stressed that Ford intends to retain the Daewoo brand, which he said would be a "pround and highly complementary addition" to Ford's family of brands, including Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Volvo.

Ford would expand Daewoo's sales both in South Korea and internationally, maximizing employment and the use of Daewoo facilities and its suppliers.

"I would like to emphasize that any solution to the Daewoo situation that we develop would need the acceptance of the unions, supplier associations and the Korean government."

"We are hopeful that we will be able to maximize employment at most locations," he said.

Booker was visiting Seoul for a motor show.

Ford, GM, Fiat, DaimlerChrysler and South Korea's largest automaker, Hyundai Motor Co., are in the race to take over Daewoo.

The announcement of a preferred bidder is scheduled for June.

Daewoo Motor is lumbered with about 8.6 trillion won (7.6 billion dollars) in debt against 12.9 trillion won (11.6 billion dollars) in assets.

The Daewoo Group collapsed last year under the weight of 77 billion dollars in debt.