Vehicle body maker Noble International, of Warren, Michigan, is to form a joint venture with Sumitomo Corp. to operate a facility, acquired by Noble in Silao, central Mexico, in January, 2005, according to

Sumitomo holds a 49% stake in the new company, Noble Summit Metal Processing de México, an automotive laser-welding operation.

Noble will retain a majority stake in Noble Summit and manage the facility, the report said.

"Our joint venture with Sumitomo provides both Noble and Sumitomo with more growth opportunities in the Mexican market than either of us could have generated separately," Noble's president and CEO Christopher Morin said.

"Our partnership with Sumitomo allows us to combine our laser-welding technology with Sumitomo's global footprint and experience in various markets around the world."

There was now the potential for Noble and Sumitomo to enter other world markets together, he added.

Among other automotive operations in Silao, Guanajuato state, General Motors operates an assembly plant which assembles the Chevrolet Suburban and Avalanche, GMC Yukon XL and the Cadillac Escalades ESV and EXT, said.

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