India’s top utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra has confirmed that it has submitted a letter of intent to bid for troubled Korean SUV maker Ssangyong Motor, while the Renault-Nissan alliance will also bid through its South Korean affiliate Samsung.
The South Korean company, 10% owned by China’s Shanghai Automotive Industries, reported that seven foreign and South Korean companies have now submitted letters of intent to bid.
Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra’s automotive business, said: “We have submitted an expression of interest for Ssangyong. If we are one of the companies shortlisted, then we will undertake a due diligence.”
He did not say how much the company was willing to pay for Ssangyong.
“We have to look at the economic viability of the company and how it fits into our strategy before we make a bid. Just because we have expressed an interest does not mean we will finally make a bid.”
Bharat Doshi, Mahindra’s group chief financial officer, said the company would make a bid only if it made economic sense, while Goenka added that Mahindra would have to examine the reasons why Ssangyong sales had fallen and whether that could be turned around.
South Korean media estimates a successful bid for Ssangyong would be in the region of US$300m-$500m, but analysts believe Mahindra was more likely to bid in the range of $100m to $300m.
Mahindra has been on an acquisition trail to expand its portfolio. In April, it said it was buying out Renault’s stake in a joint venture making Logan sedans in India, its first entry into the passenger car segment.
It has also bought a majority stake in electric car maker Reva.
Nissan senior vice president Andrew Palmer told Bloomberg News that Samsung had expressed interest in Ssangyong facilities.
Renault Samsung is 80% owned by Renault and the remainder by Samsung Card. It makes SM3, SM5 and SM7 sedans as well as Koleos SUVs in its factory in Busan, South Korea, which has annual capacity of about 240,000 vehicles.
Earlier this year, Renault Samsung’s CEO Jean-Marie Hurtiger said that the automaker needed to study ways to increase output as its plant is approaching maximum capacity.