The German-US auto giant DaimlerChrysler continued to decline to comment on press reports that it was about to unveil a joint bid with Hyundai Motor for the heavily-indebted South Korean group, Daewoo Motor.
DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman Karin Funk refused to make any comment on a report in the business daily Handelsblatt which said that the German-US group might this week unveil the preliminary details of an alliance Hyundai Motor aimed at launching a joint bid for Daewoo Motor.

Funk refused to be drawn on the issue, even though Hyundai Motor had said on Monday that it had been talking to DaimlerChrysler about a joint bid to take over insolvent Daewoo Motor, but no agreement had yet been struck with the German-US automaker.

South Korean press reports said that that DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai were considering splitting Daewoo’s domestic operations with 50 percent being taken by DaimlerChrysler, 19.9 percent by Hyundai and 30 percent by Daewoo creditors.

Hyundai and DaimlerChrysler will evenly split Daewoo’s overseas operations, the reports said. The partnership with DaimlerChrysler would enhance the strength of Hyundai, already South Korea’s largest automaker.

The South Korean government is opposed to Hyundai acquiring Daewoo, as it would create a monopoly.

But Hyundai’s hopes for taking over Daewoo have recently risen as surveys showed most South Koreans favor the sale to a domestic-foreign consortium rather than to a foreign buyer.

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US giants General Motors and Ford are also vying to acquire Daewoo Motor, which would add annual capacity of two million vehicles.

Industry sources in South Korea estimate that the price to take over Daewoo Motor could range from five to six billion dollars.

The deadline for bids is June 26. By June 30, the committee overseeing the bidding has to select between one and three bidders for detailed negotiations.

A successful bidder is likely to be announced in September.

Daewoo Motor, once South Korea’s second largest car maker, is reeling under an estimated 8.6 trillion won (7.6 billion dollars) in debts and has assets valued at around 12.9 trillion won (11.6 billion dollars).

It is currently operating at around 40 percent of capacity.