China's Hunan Liebao Automobile Company plans to invest in a new vehicle assembly facility in south-east Asia as part of a broader plan to expand its operations overseas.

Liebao Automobile chairman Liu Kanglin told reporters at the recent Hunan-ASEAN economic summit he believes now is the right time for his company to look for opportunities in overseas markets, starting with the ASEAN.

The company said it had already begun selling its vehicles in Malaysia on a small scale, through a recently appointed local distributor, to test the local market.

Malaysia is likely to be the eventual location of the proposed assembly plant which is scheduled to be built in 2018.

Liebao developed its product range thanks to technical assistance and licences from Mitsubishi Motors, allowing it to launch a model based on the Pajero SUV.

The company reported revenues of CNY8.6bn (US$1.25bn) last year, on vehicle sales estimated at just over 93,000 units, while earnings amounted to around CNY600m. The company employs more than 5,700 people in China.

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By GlobalData