General Motors has denied earlier reports it had renewed merger talks with Chrysler.

"There are no merger talks between GM and Chrysler," spokesman Tony Cervone told Agence France-Presse.

"We stated in November that we tabled any discussion and are focused on our liquidity situation, and that position has not changed."

He made similar remarks to several other news agencies.

The Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the discussions", reported earlier on Thursday that GM and Chrysler had reopened merger talks after Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management suggested it was willing to give away part of its ownership in the automaker.

The report said that, with cash running low at both companies, Cerberus took the initiative to restart discussions that faltered just weeks ago. At that time, both GM and Chrysler viewed a business combination as impractical and as a distraction from their mounting liquidity problems, the report noted.

The renewal of the talks could be a way for Cerberus to show Washington, which is mulling a US$14bn rescue package for GM and Chrysler, that it wants to cooperate in restructuring the industry, the paper said, citing people familiar with the buyout firm's thinking.

The Wall Street Journal said the renewal of talks could offer Cerberus a way to protect its stakes in the two distressed finance companies, GMAC and Chrysler Financial, which are crucial to the survival of the Detroit Big Three.